What Do Canadian Women Have Against Stephen Harper?

Do you want to know the pick up line that goes over best with Canadian women?  Check out this video to find out:


Over the five years Stephen Harper has been prime minister, he has:

  • closed 12 out of 16 status of women offices across Canada

  • eliminated funding of legal voices for women, including the National Association of Women in Law

  • eliminated funding for Sisters in Spirit, an internationally praised organization leading investigations into 600 cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.

Since 2006, Harper has cut funding for women’s advocacy by 43%.

More links:

Project For Slain Women Faces End: Federal Funding for Sisters in Spirit Ends March 31

Tories Accused of Culture of Intimidation

Sisters in Spirit

Canada’s Environment Minister Says Cutting Greenhouse Gases is Pointless

Help A Woman, Help The Planet

The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world.”

In honour of International Women’s Day, and all of the amazing women I have the privilege and honour of knowing, here’s a repost from It’s Getting Hot in Here, written by Caroline Howe and entitled “Half the Sky: Women and Climate Change”:

When drought parches wells and streams,
someone must carry water. When storms bring devastation
and disease, someone has to nurse the sick.
Climate change hits hardest on the planet’s vulnerable edges.
If women hold up half the sky, what do we do
when it seems the sky is falling?

– Barbara Kingsolver, Ripple Effect Images

On International Women’s Day, it’s hard not to think about the most vulnerable, the women all around the world whose lives are being most impacted by climate change. As Kingsolver described, it’s women and girls who are travelling farther to bring water to their homes, walking for hours a day, eliminating many girls’ already-slim chance to attend school. It’s women who cook for hours in their kitchens, breathing in the smoke from cookstoves that pollute their lungs and their air. And, it’s women who are often last to eat, even when the first responsible for putting food on their families’ plates, even in the face of increasing food scarcity.

Hillary Clinton recently echoed Madeleine Albright in saying that issues of gender equality are issues of national and global security, and the impacts of climate change are woven tightly between the two. We cannot solve the challenges of climate change without empowering and educating women, and we cannot solve our other global challenges without addressing climate change. As Time recently wrote, “If you want to change the world, invest in girls.”

Empowering female entrepreneurs and political leaders has never been more needed nor more possible. There’s Solar Sister in Africa and Barefoot College in India, training women as solar engineers and entrepreneurs; Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement, planting trees and hope across Africa; dozens of groups of women constructing rainwater harvesting and catch dams. See the impact of giving female leaders better information about development decisions, training women on basic green technologies, and getting cleaner cookstoves into women’s homes.

These programs not only make women stronger, but help their families and communities. The World Food Programme reports that women who earn, invest 90 percent back into their families, and back into their communities. Investing in women means investing in communities, in truly sustainable development. Today, the problems and their solutions are closer than ever: “Help a Woman. Help the Planet.”

The following video features a Cameroonian woman talking about how climate change is affecting women in her country:


Take Action:

From Oxfam Canada: Demand climate justice for women:

Canada will soon be joining with other world leaders to establish a climate fund to help poor countries adapt to the droughts and floods caused by climate change.

We want to make sure this fund recognizes that women are often the first and worst affected by these disasters. Go to Oxfam.ca for more info and to email Minister of the Environment Peter Kent to ensure that women play a key role in envisioning and implementing climate change solutions.

More links:

It’s Getting Hot in Here: Dispatches from the Youth Climate Movement

Women and girls in developing countries bear the biggest burden as climate change impacts the world. It is in the daily lives of these women that the battle to save their family, the planet, and the future is played out. These women and girls are forces of nature, and Ripple Effect Images is telling their stories. RippleEffectImages.com

World Religious Leaders: Bold Action Needed On Climate Change

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Since Monday, dozens of religious leaders from diverse faiths have been gathering at the University of Winnipeg at the G8 Religious Leaders Summit. Besides Christian, Jewish, and Islamic leaders, there are also representatives from Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Baha’i, and Shinto traditions as well as Indigenous Spirituality. It is the first time Canada has hosted the Summit which, for the past five years, has been organized to complement the meeting of G8 political leaders. G8 leaders are meeting in Huntsville, Ontario, later this week.

A significant part of each Interfaith Leaders Summit is the writing of a statement, which underscores the nature of the G8 commitments to the Millenium Development Goals and other processes that move toward equality and justic for all children, women and men. The working statement, which is undergoing discussion and will be different at the end of the summit, can be read by clicking on: “A Time For Inspired Leadership and Action“.

I attended the summit yesterday as an observer, and was impressed and encouraged by the sense of importance and urgency that underscored the 1 1/2 hour discussion on climate change. The statement reads, in part:

Climate change has become an urgent and felt manifestation of our collective abuse of the very environment that gives us life. We see the consequences in melting icecaps and rising sea levels, lost habitats for animal and plant species, and erratic weather episodes that threaten the lives of millions of people.

As scientists discover new accelerators of climate change and note the compression of time available to avoid irreparable damage, it is clear that bold action is needed now. We need to move beyond short-term political interests and arguments over who pays. In our indivisible planet we all pay – and future generations will pay dearly – if we continue to delay decisive action now.

Around the table there were calls for courageous and concrete action. Katherine Whitecloud, an aboriginal leader from the Dakota First Nation and a descendant of Chief Sitting Bull, spoke powerful words to the gathered religious leaders. She reminded the room that the rivers are the veins of Mother Earth, and they are now poisoned.

My grandmother said, someday we will eat our children. That time has come. We are foolishly and arrogantly raping Mother Earth so She has nothing left to offer…Mother Earth is crying, attempting to rid herself of all the toxins we have poured into her [author’s note: it has been extremely wet here on the prairies recently]. You cannot wait for your president, or another elected official, to do something about this. You have to decide what YOU are going to do for your children, for your grandchildren.”

Katherine then went on to ask the assembled group about the meaning of sacrifice, because that is what is going to be needed at this point in human history.

“Sacrifice is going without so someone else will live…Now is the time for courageous and concrete action. In your heart, you know what that means.”

Katherine demonstrated the kind of bold and courageous leadership that we needed to steer through this crisis, and make the dramatic changes necessary so that our children aren’t consumed. What is each of us prepared to do?

PM Harper Continues to Ignore Calls From International Community To Put Climate Change on G8/G20 Agenda

I’m up early this morning, listening to the rain come down on an already saturated prairie city.  When my husband and I went out last night to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary we found the water in some places on the road came up to our wheel wells.  The roads weren’t as badly flooded as after the record-breaking rain Winnipeg experienced 10 days ago, when motorists were stranded in underpasses as the city’s drainage system was overwhelmed (click here for a picture).  On the CBC Radio Morning Show yesterday, there was a story about how farmers’ fields are flooded and either the crops they’ve planted are under water or their fields are too soggy to plant in. The Manitoba government has received as many crop insurance claims so far, 6 months into 2010, as is the norm for most entire years (and more are expected). And yet not a word was said about how climate scientists have been warning for decades that the warming of the atmosphere will result in global weather “weirding”!

We are starting to pay the price for unmitigated climate change, in insurance claims (from crops to flooded basements) as well as in unpredictable weather.  I grew up in this province, and I know that Manitoba summers should be hot and sunny.  2009 was the summer that wasn’t, in this part of the world – rain, rain, and more rain!  We shall see what 2010 has in store for us, but one thing we should know for sure is that we can’t count on the weather any more.  The implications for our economic system, which will be stretched to the limit, and likely past it, with dealing with the fall-out from freak weather, are enough to make any tax-payer shudder.  This should make politicians wake up and address this issue now, while dealing with it is still manageable. But instead the majority of our national leaders are short-sighted and focused only on making their political opponents look bad today, and, in the case of Minority Prime Minister Stephen Harper, shoving his minority agenda down the all of Canadians’ throats. Mr. Harper wouldn’t recognize climate change if it came up and introduced itself to him over breakfast one day.

Yet another high-profile call for putting climate change on the G8/G20 agenda in Toronto has come in, this time from six Nobel Laureates.  Their letters, sent separately to PM Harper as well as to the leaders of other countries attending, warn climate change threatens both the planet’s economy and the planet’s security.

“Environmental degradation and global warming, and their impacts, are economic and security issues as well as environmental ones. Failure to address climate change will put the global economy at further risk, and plunge millions who are already living on the economic margins into deeper poverty. This poverty leads to more migration, more violence and greater social and economic insecurity for both developing and developed nations.”

Instead of recognizing that economy is interwined with many other issues, including climate change, Mr. Harper has chosen to cancel the usual meeting of environment ministers that generally happens concurrently with the main G8/G20 economic summit.  He has also rejected calls from international leaders such as UN Chief Ban Ki-moon, EU President Barroso, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon, to put climate change on the agenda of the Toronto summits.

If you are concerned about the Harper government’s increasing isolation internationally, and the damage being done to Canada’s reputation, why don’t you let him know?  Here is his contact information: telephone: 613-992-4211, email: Harper.S@parl.ga.ca, fax: 613-941-6900.

If you are on Facebook, you can join the group “Tell Harper to put Climate Change back on the G8G20 Agenda”. Click here to go to that page.

More links:

“Nobel Laureates Urge Harper To Put Climate On G20 Agenda“. Canada.com

“Man. Crops Getting Washed Out” CBC.ca

Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai, “The Tree Mother of Africa”, On Whether One Person Can Make A Difference

More inspiration from Professor Wangari Maathai, an amazing woman from Kenya who founded the Green Belt Movement there 30 years ago and won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts.  Since Prof. Maathai started it in 1977, the Movement has organized poor rural women in Kenya to plant over 30 million trees. This is turn combats deforestation, restores their main source of fuel for cooking, generates income, and stops soil erosion. The Green Belt Movement incorporates advocacy and empowerment for women, eco-tourism, and economic justice into the simple act of planting trees.

In this video, Prof. Maathai talks about whether one person can make a difference. She is certainly proof that one dedicated and inspired person can transform the world!


Here is an interview with Prof. Maathai, from 2008.


To go to The Green Belt Movement’s website, click here.

To go to Professor Maathai’s Facebook page, click here.

Click here to go to Tree-Nation.com, the biggest free Internet social network with the objective of planting trees in order to fight poverty, desertification, deforestation and climate change. For every 10 people that join, a tree is planted.

Now go out and get your hands dirty – plant a real tree!

Stand With The “Sisters on the Planet” on International Women’s Day

Oxfam’s Sisters on the Planet initiative recognizes that climate change hits poor people hardest—especially poor women, who are disproportionately affected. As their website states:

People like to talk about global warming like it’s a problem to deal with in the future. But the reality is that poor people are already struggling with it right now. You don’t have to go to drought-riddled Ethiopia or flood-threatened Cambodia or malaria-prone South Africa to witness it. Just take a trip to the hurricane-battered US Gulf Coast or look at the damage done by the wildfires in California. Climate change kills off crops, destroys homes, and creates massive refugee problems. There’s no time to waste. We must help poor communities deal with the effects right now…

If we act quickly, we can reduce the damaging impact that climate change has on poor people’s lives and livelihoods. But if we fail to help in time, they will suffer far greater damage, and at a much higher human and financial cost.

Women’s Environmental Network (WEN) recently presented an extensive report on women and climate change to the British House of Commons.  The report documents how catastrophe related to climate change will have a much greater impact on women. Entitled ‘Engendering Change’, the report points out that because of ongoing gender inequality, different social roles, and simple biology, women are more likely to die in extreme weather conditions, to  suffer from increased workload,  and be subject to abuse, including sexual violence, in resource conflicts exacerbated by climate change.  As their Women & Climate Change blog states:

The report’s conclusions include a sobering fact, that women constitute up to 80% of climate refugees, that 20 million women have already lost their homes and livelihoods due to climate change related weather chaos. The IPCC says that extreme weather conditions are set to increase and become more frequent. The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction shows clearly that since 1970 the numbers of extreme weather events has increased from around 25 per year for floods to 200 per year with incidences of droughts, wind storms and related disasters also increasing. As we discovered in Copenhagen, climate change is already causing chaos around the world and disproportionately claiming women’s lives, safety and health.

If you are a woman, or you have a wife or a daughter or a mother that you care about, use this International Women’s Day to take action to ensure a better, safer future for them.  Some of things each of us can do are:

Tell our political leaders that climate change is an urgent issue and needs to be addressed.  Click here for more on how to do this.

If you are in the US, click here to go to the “action” page of Sisters on the Planet, and sign up to become a sister (or brother).

To read about how climate change is affecting women in Africa, go to allAfrica.com. To find out more facts and figures on gender and climate change, go to this UNIFEM page.

Click here to visit the Women’s Environmental Network blog.