Ryan's Website: LINK
Gender Equality Policy: LINK
I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things, particularly the Rosetown Debate discussion, but we'll have to wait for the party to place it online so that I can give it a watch first. Until then, we'll keep our focus on the campaign camps, particularly looking at the latest news out of the Meili Camp.
In addition to release a gender equality policy, Ryan also picked up an endorsement from Manitoba MP Niki Ashton. Now, we've talked a bit about endorsements and the role they play here on the blog, so there's not too much to talk about on that front. What I can say, however, is that I am a bit surprised to see federal politicians wading into the provincial leadership. I'm not condemning the move, just surprised by it, though I do think that it will tend to make little difference in the grand scheme of things; after all, as we stated, endorsements tend to be little more than glowing references, ultimately it is up to the people/membership to listen to those endorsements or not.
As stated, Ryan's campaign has released their gender equality policy, so let's have a closer look at that.
It's interesting that in 2013, we would still be talking about an issue as fundamental as gender equality. I think most people have incorrectly assumed that this is an issue that has long since been settled, which is why it's good to see a campaign call direct attention to it.
The first plank of Ryan's policy focuses on human rights. This approach is to curb gender-related violence through social, legal and educational initiatives. Ryan's plan calls for increasing legal literacy in the community to strengthen social empowerment of women and other marginalized groups; a push for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women; adding gender identity to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code; providing stable funding to groups that assist individuals affected by violence; provide mandatory and consistent anti-oppression training to criminal justice workers, including judges, police, prosecutors, and others.
The second plank of Ryan's policy focuses on poverty reduction and opportunity. This approach is to ensure that gender-disparity in the workplace is addressed and ensure equal access to quality jobs. Ryan's plan calls for every budget and program to be analyzed through a gender lens to ensure the interests of women and principles of economic equality are reflected, this is also to be done with respect to marginalized groups specifically First Nations and Métis; diversify the Saskatchewan economy through programs designed to enhance employment opportunities for women; introduce pay equality legislation that applies to all people; top up paid maternity leave, similar to Quebec, to 70% of the first 18 weeks of maternity leave, 8 weeks of parental leave, and 5 weeks of paternity leave.
The third plank of Ryan's policy focuses on education. Ryan's plan calls for prioritizing lower tuition, child care for students, and flexible student loans with a larger forgivable portion; increase incentives and scholarships to encourage girls and women to excel in science and technology, and to overcome glass ceilings in academic achievement; develop an integrated childhood education program and care to allow more women to pursue educational and career opportunities, resulting in an increased labour force participation and decreasing poverty among women and single parents.
The fourth plank of Ryan's policy focuses on health care. Ryan's plan calls for developing and implementing gender-sensitive training for health professionals in early recognition and support for survivors of violence and sexual assault, particularly for First Nations and Métis women, women with disabilities, and immigrant and refugee women; for women in remote and rural areas, create incentives to recruit and retain physicians, provide subsidies for patient travel, and increase safe houses and shelters for women; including women's voices in the discussion of policy and shaping of mental health resources in the province; develop community initiatives to encourage senior women to be more active by providing accessible low-cost community based activities, while also providing greater respite and support programs for caregivers; design, plan and implement culturally appropriate programs for immigrant and refugee women's health, improve access of interpretation services, and maintain programs for refugee health despite federal cuts.
The final plank of Ryan's plan focuses on political and institutional participation. Ryan's plan calls for expanding the 'candidate school' to reach out to potential nominees and provide mentorship to potential female candidates, while also hiring a recruiter from the SNDW to help with the process; adopt the federal party's equity candidate rule during nominations; ensure the legislature is a welcoming place, by increasing access to childcare, child friendly meeting places, retreats and skill-building courses, and anti-oppression training for all members; creating a positive space for women to be included in the party, and the development of legislation that is important to women across the province.
Out of all the things announced in the policy, I think the entire first plank of Ryan's plan is what stands out the most. One of the failings of the past has been to not adequately address the institutionalized biases that exist with regards to equality and gender roles, and actively taking steps to ensure that those biases are directly addressed is a good step in actually achieving headway in changing the institutional mindset.