Critical Analysis of the City of Montreal's Draft Gender Equality Policy 

January 01, 2007

The Table des groupes de femmes de Montréal and the Table régionale des centres de femmes du Montréal métropolitain /Laval decided to undertake a joint effort to support Montreal women and women's groups who wish to respond to the draft gender equality policy presented for consultation by the City of Montreal in the autumn of 2007 by way of a notice or brief. We hope that women and women's groups will participate in this exercise in large numbers so that our voices can be heard and our concerns and priorities can be considered in the development of the policy.

This tool reiterates the recommendations formulated at the 2005 conference "Montréal, une ville, à la mesure des femmes" (Montreal, A City, Tailored to Women), presents the content of the draft policy according to the 5 axes1 and suggests certain elements for reflection as well as the occasional recommendation. We invite you to take this document for what it is: a tool. Feel free to make use of the elements that interest you or that you consider to be the most relevant. Of course, your own experiences and expertise are the best sources of inspiration. You can also deepen your reflection with the content of the Citizen Declarations made by many Montreal women's centres, as they discuss the concerns of Montreal women in terms of improving their living conditions in detail. Likewise, we would like to bring your attention to the fact that some lived experiences are practically ignored by the draft policy. For example, poverty among women, work-family balance, immigrant women, etc.

However, we must highlight that the governance axis is especially important due to its broad nature. The same is true of the policy's framework measures, which are designed to allow for effective monitoring of its implementation. On these two subjects, we are soliciting the support and solidarity of the Montreal women's movement, because uniting our voices on these questions will allow us to make collective gains.

Generally speaking, the draft policy presents very generous objectives that we can hardly oppose. The proposed measures, however, are often little more than lip service with vague timelines. As for resources to ensure its implementation, the City has already announced that the policy will be cost neutral. With all understanding for the City's financial situation, we know that the implementation of such a policy cannot be done without financial resources. For this reason, it is important that funds be transferred to ensure its application. We are also concerned by the active involvement of Montreal's 19 boroughs in achieving the equality objective. While we understand their autonomy, we consider it crucial that the boroughs be key stakeholders in implementing this policy.

Lastly, the City set a general objective for 2007-2010 of continuing to be a role model in gender equality for cities at the national and international level2. In our opinion, the City's first objective should be to improve the living conditions of Montreal women and to work to attain equality in practice in its structure, operations and services. Only then can it assume a leadership role in gender equality at the international level.

From the start, the title of the document submitted for consultation demonstrated a step back in terms of the initial objectives fixed by the equality policy working group: "Promoting the Equal Involvement of Women and Men in the Montreal Community, Policy and Implementation Measures." We must not only ensure the equal involvement of women; we must ensure equality under the law AND in practice for Montreal women.

We hope that these general remarks, and the more specific ones to follow, will interest you in speaking up as part of the consultation process. Doing so is a step toward improving living conditions for Montreal women.

Anne Pasquier, coordinator

Table des groupes de femmes de Montréal


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