Where Be Woman?

A new book from Janine Brody and Isabella Bakker on gender equity, budgets and public policy – Where Are the Women?

Contemporary Canadian fiscal and social policy reforms have been accompanied by the progressive disappearance of the gendered subject, both in discourse and practice. Indeed, the minority Conservative government of Stephen Harper has gone so far as to declare that the goal of gender equity has been achieved in Canada. However, as Brodie and Bakker argue in Where Are the Women? Gender Equity, Budgets and Canadian Public Policy, not only has the goal of gender equality not been met but the relentless attack on federal social programs over the past decade has actually undermined gender equity, as well as the well-being of Canadian women, especially the most vulnerable.

In fact the degendering of public policy and the erasure of the goal of gender equity from the policy process has been a long-standing project, reaching all the way back to the mid-1990s. Brodie and Bakker describe how over this period there has developed a fundamental disconnect—a policy incoherence—within Canadian government. On the one hand, Canadian governments have been publicly committing themselves to working towards gender equality goals. On the other, these same governments have been subverting their own progress by giving priority to supposedly “gender-neutral” market-based policies at the expense of all other social priorities.

In Where Are the Women? Brodie and Bakker focus on five dimensions of the process of degendering of contemporary Canadian public policy. Chapter 2 examines major federal social policy initiatives since the mid-1990s, and their implications for different groups of women. Chapter 3 focuses on the fragmentation and erosion of Canada’s social assistance regime and considers the implications of these processes for gender equality. Chapter 4 documents the degendering of policy capacity, both within and outside of government, and how such changes stand in contrast to the international and national commitments made by a series of Canadian governments. Chapter 5 considers how budget planning in all its aspects has become an increasingly important component of social policy capacity, and how the veil of budget secrecy has been adopted as a mechanism to obscure the fiscalization of social policy. Finally, a series of recommendations related to the governance of fiscal and social policy are provided in Chapter 6, while Chapter 7 offers as a postscript a description of the significant changes to the position of gender equity in Canada following the election of the Harper Conservative government.

Column Access

From the very surprised New York Times:

In the great marketplace of ideas, the opinion pages of major newspapers offer nonjournalists – mainly academics – a rare chance to reach a big audience and influence public policy. So which college professors win the competition for that limited, coveted space? 

Overwhelmingly, they agree with the editorial page, and they are men, according to researchers at Rutgers University. Unfortunately, those findings do not suggest the kind of forum for diverse views that newspapers say their opinion pages should be. 

[…] 

The study says that men wrote 78 percent of the academics’ opinion pieces in The Star-Ledger, 82 percent in The Times, and 97 percent in The Journal. “Of all our analyses,” the authors wrote, “this is perhaps the most astonishing.”

They did not say whether the disparity was, in part, a reflection of the gender makeup at some university departments and institutes.

I wonder what the stats would be in alternative media.  My impression is that there may be a few more women, but not enough to change those numbers in a serious way?

Bill C-10

From Art Threat:

Opposition keeps growing to the Conservative government’s Bill C-10. The controversial bill would allow the Minister of Heritage to rescind tax-credits from television programs and films after production should they deem it ‘contrary to public policy.’

Today the mayors of Montreal and Toronto made the nickel and dime argument against C-10 to the Senate banking committee:

“This industry is of incredible importance,” said [Toronto Mayor David] Miller after telling the senators that it employs 35,000 people in his city – more than the manufacturing sector. Its artistic and financial success depends on its “continued ability to work in a field where the boundaries are well defined and political interference or censorship will not be tolerated.”

Mayor Gerald Tremblay of Montreal told the committee that the film industry has been active in his city for 60 years and that the industry is worth $1.3-billion to his province.

“Having read the bill, we feel obliged to state that the measures relating to tax incentives introduce an element of uncertainty which would have a negative financial impact on the production of Canadian and Quebec film because the minister might be able to call for the repaying of tax credits after the film has been completed,” said [Montreal] Mayor [Gerald] Tremblay.

The mayors also presented letters of support from Sam Sullivan, mayor of Vancouver (which takes in the most money from TV & film production in North America after New York and Los Angeles), and Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly, who argued that hits like Trailer Park Boys may never have received the financial backing necessary if Bill C-10 had been in place.

The saga continues as it is now up to the Senate to vote on the bill. Part of an income tax bill, the government has said the vote on the bill is considered a confidence motion. While many senators have voiced opposition, it isn’t clear whether they are willing to force an election over the issue.