Description

Vancouver: A City for All Women, Women’s Equity Strategy 2018-2028 (pdf) was unanimously adopted by City Council in January 2018. The policy builds on the foundational work started with the City’s 2005 Gender Equality Plan (the first such municipal plan in Canada) and sheds light on many of the barriers which continue to limit the full participation and contributions of all self-identified women. The strategy sets out specific goals and targets to address these barriers, recognizing that the full inclusion of all residents is fundamental to creating a city which is diverse, welcoming, vibrant, economically successful, and environmentally sustainable.

Women's Equity strategy

Significance

The strategy, including the overarching theme of intersectionality, has the potential to transform design and programming in the city, making spaces and urban culture more open and safe for all women to access.

Fundamentally, an intersectional framework prioritizes removing barriers particularly for those whose lives are complicated by having multiple stigmatized or underprivileged identities, such as race, ability, sexual orientation, and more.

The first phase of the strategy focuses on several themes: childcare, safety, housing, and leadership and representation. Each theme has a number of actions for phase one, aimed at improving the lives of women in the city. Leadership and representation has particularly robust goals in phase one, looking to increase the numbers of women in jobs where they were previously under-represented, and removing barriers to women working and thriving as city staff and elected officials.

Some suggested the targets will make the city safe for all, not just women. Others questioned whether the strategy was a planning milestone and whether equity could be achieved solely by altering physical form.

The significance will lie in its implementation, not the approval of strategy.

Background

The process of creating the 2018 Strategy gathered a wide range of voices and recommendations from community groups, individuals, and “subject experts”. The Women’s Advisory Committee was a result of the foundational work for the strategy and was instrumental in the creation of Women Transforming Cities, a city-wide NGO that continues this work in the community.
The Women’s Advisory Committee, identified as a key player in the original motion to Council for the new strategy, contributed hundreds of working-hours to the development of the Strategy, and recommended the five themes that were taken up as phase one priorities.

The phase one actions are concrete, and each is assigned to a department within the City, to ensure measurable success.
Further phases in the ten-year plan will be determined by an Action Team, with reference to the many recommendations collected from the community and WAC, which appear in the appendix of the strategy.

As a follow-up to the unanimous Council approval of the strategy, the WAC held a public forum to inform the community of the details and actions of the strategy, and to encourage further public participation and monitoring of the strategy’s progress.

Sources