The Canadian Status of Women Minister Bev Oda said that the government will remove the word “equality” from her program”s mandate in order to achieve equality in every government department. The Status of Women Office is a federal agency in charge of ensuring gender equality among all aspects of political, social, and cultural life in Canada, according to its official website. Oda said earlier this week that the Status of Women Office “relieves” others from a nationwide “responsibility” to achieve gender equality, CanWest reports.
Oda said, in support of the conservative government’s decision, “A lot of issues are not women’s issues, they’re Canadian issues,” reports CanWest. “If you want to advocate for more opportunities for women to enter the workforce, you should be talking to the minister of human resources and social development,” Oda said. “If it’s aboriginal women, it’s the responsibility of the minister of aboriginal affairs… It’s not just in one secretariat or one office, the Office of the Status of women… I think in fact [the existence of the Office] weakens the belief, it weakens the ability of the equality of women to be instilled throughout the government department, agencies, and offices.” Closing a majority of the Status of Women offices will save $5 million, which Oda says will be spent on community programs that help women directly, such as job counselors at women”s shelters.
According to CanWest, the decision to dilute the Office’s mandate has rightly angered many women”s rights groups.