If women can now vote, hold property and run for elected office, it is because others fought for these rights. Eradicating barriers to our full participation in society will not just happen. It never did in the past.
Democracy is messy and differences of opinion are part of any healthy democracy. Progress comes out of these differences.
The Hatfield government realized this when it created New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women. In 1974, New Brunswick women organized a provincial conference, which resulted in the creation of an ad hoc committee to lobby for the creation of an Advisory Council on the Status of Women. A law creating an Advisory Council made it possible for the first members to be appointed in December 1977.
At the time, and still today, there is a democratic deficit in New Brunswick and in Canada. Only a small percentage of our elected representatives are women. Women are also under-represented on boards and commissions as well as upper-management positions.
The Advisory Council on the Status of Women, in short, ensures that women’s equality issues remain on the government’s and the public’s agenda. It also conducts research, publishes reports and holds free public events to disseminate this information.
The government is claiming that budgetary considerations are the basis for its decision to abolish the Advisory Council. In reality, the cost savings are minimal. There are other reasons motivating this decision.
I am saddened that our government chose to abolish this effective and important agency. Perhaps the ramifications of this decision will not be felt today or tomorrow. In the long run though, we will all lose because an important perspective will be lacking in our democracy.
I join my voice to the many others who are calling on Premier Alward to reverse his government’s decision and to reinstate the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women.