VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A local group is calling on the provincial government to “elevate women’s economic vulnerability”, saying it would benefit everyone –especially women.
Thursday is International Women’s Day, which the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter is using to acknowledge how far the world has come, but also to highlight how much more needs to be done.
“Women gained a lot of equality or a lot of rights compared to where we were 100 years ago, or even 50 years ago,” says Hilla Kerner, who speaks for the group. “But when it comes to male violence against women, we have done very little.”
She admits recent movements like the #MeToo campaign have highlighted the fact that violence against women is a common experience, but would like to see more effort put into improving women’s lives. “We want to use International Women’s Day to acknowledge women’s achievements and how far we’ve come, but there is much more to do. In this particular moment, we’re calling on the provincial government to do its part.”
One idea Kerner has is implementing a Guaranteed Livable Income, which she believes will help women find economic independence.
“We know that this government has been expressing interest in reducing poverty, but we really want to end poverty. Economic independence is a very important element when we talk about women’s equality and women’s liberty, and we believe that if women do not suffer from poverty, or do not have a threat to be poor, they will have much more freedom.”
She says a Guaranteed Livable Income could help women who might otherwise find themselves in difficult situations just to get by.
“A lot of women are stuck in terrible, exploitative jobs where they’re objectified and harassed because they cannot afford having no income,” Kerner says. “Many women who resorted to prostitution are doing it because they don’t have enough money, women afraid to leave abusive husbands because they’re worried they will not be able to provide for themselves or their children.”
Members of the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter hope to speak with the provincial government about proposed reforms to help those most vulnerable. “We’re hoping that [the media] platform and others will get the premier’s ear.”
There are a number of events designed to bring women together on International Women’s Day to celebrate successes and demand more action.
“If the government will provide Guaranteed Livable Income, so we’re not talking about welfare rates that really doom people to stay poor, but enough income that will allow women to have dignified lives,” Kerner says. “It will improve the situation in general, but will allow women to escape a lot of abusive situations in particular.”
She hopes women will take part in fighting for equality and wants anyone who may be dealing with a difficult situation to call the organization’s crisis line, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.