Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace


Posted by strattof on March 10, 2011

Tuesday March 8 is International Women’s Day. First observed in 1911, International Women’s Day is this year marking its 100th anniversary. It is an occasion both for celebrating women’s social, economic, and political achievements and for reflecting on the action required for more progress to be made toward realizing gender equality. 

It is in this spirit, that today’s flier features the struggles and remarkable achievements of three women’s organizations, as well as key facts and figures on gender inequality in Canada.


With more than 35,000 members, WOZA is one of the most prominent civil society movements in Zimbabwe. Its purpose is to protest the worsening social, economic, and human rights situation in Zimbabwe by organizing non-violent demonstrations. Since their first protest action on Valentine’s Day 2003, when members distributed red roses symbolizing a better life for all Zimbabweans, these courageous activists have repeatedly been harassed by the Zimbabwe police, who have subjected them (and their babies) to ill-treatment. 

When WOZA women take to the streets, they are frequently arrested and detained for periods ranging from a few hours to several weeks. Conditions in detention are often poor and cells over-crowded. Police have also attempted to deny detained activists access to legal advice, and lawyers acting for WOZA have been subject to harassment by police.

But WOZA prevails and has led to the start of a new–and growing–organization called MOZA: Men of Zimbabwe Arise.

To learn more about WOZA, go to:


RAWA was founded in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1977 as an independent political and social organization of Afghan women. Using non-violent strategies, it struggles for human rights and social justice in Afghanistan.

In the 1980s, RAWA demonstrated against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. In retaliation its leader, Meena Keshwar Kamal, was assassinated by agents of the KGB. Since the overthrow in 1992 of the Soviet-installed regime, the focus of RAWA’s political struggle has been against Islamic fundamentalist regimes, including the Taliban and Northern Alliance.

RAWA was also highly critical of the US-led NATO invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, emphasizing civilian casualties. It continues to criticize the US for relying on the Northern Alliance for support, seeing it as replacing one fundamentalist regime with another. RAWA also believes that “freedom and democracy cannot be donated” but must be achieved by the citizens of a country.

To learn more about RAWA, go to:


Established in 1974, NWAC works to enhance the social, economic, and political well-being of Aboriginal women in Canada. Focusing on such issues as housing, healthcare, childcare, education, and employment, NWAC has sought to get the needs of Aboriginal women, one of the most marginalized groups in Canada, on the political agenda. (43% of Aboriginal women live in poverty in Canada, double the percentage of non-Aboriginal women and significantly more than the number of Aboriginal men.)

In 2004, NWAC launched its Sisters in Spirit initiative, a national research project to document evidence and raise awareness pertaining to sexual and racial violence against Aboriginal women resulting in disappearance or death. A 2010 Sisters in Spirit study shows that 582 Aboriginal women have been murdered or gone missing in Canada since 1970, with 39% of the cases having occurred since 2000. While Aboriginal women make up only three per cent of the population, they have been 10 per cent of the murder victims in the past 20 years.

In 2010, the federal government cancelled its funding for the Sisters in Spirit initiative. As a result, the upkeep of the Sisters in Spirit internationally acclaimed database of missing and murdered Aboriginal women is at risk.

Is Sisters in Spirit being punished for its success in raising awareness about violence against Aboriginal women in Canada? Whatever the case, it is only one group in a long list of information-collecting and advocacy organizations that have in recent years lost government support.

To find out more about NWAC and Sisters in Spirit, google NWAC.                                   


 1.      More women than men live in poverty in Canada. In Saskatchewan, one in every eight women is poor, while for men it’s one in every eleven.

2.      Women earn less than men in Canada. Women who work full time, year round, earn only 71 cents for every dollar earned by men.

3.      60% of minimum wage workers in Canada are women. The minimum wage in Saskatchewan in $9.25 an hour.

4.      Only 39% of unemployed women are receiving EI benefits. 45% of unemployed men collect.

5.      Women do more than 80% of the unpaid care giving in Canada.

6.      In a 2008 UNICEF study of 25 wealthy nations, Canada placed last in the ranking of early childcare and education services offered.

7.      In the business sector, women make up 47% of Canada’s work force, but fill just 17% of corporate officer positions in Canada’s 500 largest organizations.

8.      Women constitute 52% of Canada’s population, but hold only 22% of the seats in the House of Commons. Canada ranks 52nd in the world in representation of women in the national parliament, behind many poor countries, including Rwanda and Afghanistan.

9.      51% of Canadian women have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.

10.  Canada came 20th on the World Economic Forum’s 2010 global gender equality index. The index measures how the world’s countries share their resources and opportunities among their male and female populations. It shows that, in terms of gender equality, Canada was in 14th place in 2006 when the World Economic Forum first started to compile the index.



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  2. Stan Squires said

    I am from vancouver and i wanted to say that womens rights are not very good here in canada.A lot of women here don’t have access to an abortion and some provences like PEI have no access to an abortion.This is outrageous in this day of age. All women in canada should have access to an abortion without any restrictions and be covered by medicare.All progressive people in canada should support this right for women.You can always tell how democratic a country is by how women are treated in the country.

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