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18 Can. J. Women & L. 1 (2006)
Introducing the Women's Court of Canada

handle is hein.journals/cajwol18 and id is 5 raw text is: Introducing the Women's Court of Canada
Diana Majury
The Beginning...
8:00 PM, 27 February 2004-the end of a long day. Ten feminist equality/
Charter' activists, lawyers, and academics are sitting around a long table
eating pasta and drinking red wine in an Italian restaurant in downtown
Toronto. We have spent the day together talking about section 15 of the
Charter-recent cases, recent losses. We have been pushing ourselves and our
thinking, strengthening and developing our equality analysis, trying to respond
to the challenges of intersectionality and of competing rights. We have been
strategizing about how to move forward with our ideas. Over the course of the
day, we have had moments of exhilaration, moments of intense debate and
discussion, and some break-through eureka moments. It has been an exciting,
productive day full of possibilities. Yet despite all of these positives, the day
has been overshadowed by an overriding sense of gloom brought on by what
we all see as grievous judicial backsliding on equality. At the end of the day,
we are pretty subdued. We are feeling disheartened, angry, frustrated.
Women's equality is painfully far from being a reality-too many women
live in poverty, unable to feed and house themselves and their children
adequately; lesbians are merely tolerated, mostly regarded as a deviant
lifestyle, sometimes targeted for hate and violence; women with disabilities are
still denied basic access to transportation, employment, and autonomy;
racialized women are stigmatized and marginalized, and, in the post 9/11
political climate, some are perceived as potential terrorists; Aboriginal women
are disappearing-raped, murdered, and discarded. The issues are urgent;
there is much equality work to be done. But, politicians and Supreme Court of
Canada judges alike seem to think that women have largely attained equality
and that other issues (balanced budgets and national security) should take
priority over equality. We are losing equality ground; we are in danger of
losing our equality footing.
Equality has experienced some terrible setbacks in recent Supreme Court of
Canada decisions.2 The impact has been devastating, not only for the
1.  Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Part 1 of the Constitution Act 1982, being
Schedule B to the Canada Act, 1982 (U.K.), 1982, c. 11.
2.  For some searing examples see Gosselin v. Quebec (Attorney-General), [2002] 4S.C.R. 429
[Gosselin]; Newfoundland (Treasury Board) v. Newfoundland and Labrador Association of
Public and Private Employees (N.A.P.E.), [2004] 3 S.C.R. 381 [NAPE]; Hodge v. Canada

doi: 10.3138/cjwl.18.1.1

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