The Standing Committee on the Status of Women studies the policies, programs, expenditures and legislation of departments and agencies, including Status of Women Canada, that conduct work related to the status of women.
Under Standing Order 108(1), the House of Commons may refer certain matters to the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women for examination and report. This Order also authorizes the Committee to create subcommittees to focus on particular subjects. Under Standing Order 108(2), the Committee has the broad authority to study the policies, programs, expenditures (budgetary estimates) and legislation of departments and agencies, including Status of Women Canada, that conduct work related to the status of women.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women was created for the first time in the 38th Parliament in 2004. To establish its initial work plan, the Committee undertook a series of consultations with national and regional women’s organizations. During roundtable discussions in November and December 2004, four major themes were identified:
• the impact of federal government funding to women’s organizations and equality-seeking organizations on their ability to provide services and to advocate for equality;
• the importance of developing and strengthening the capacity of the federal government to take into consideration the way that gender inequality impacts women’s lives;
• the continued, disproportionate incidence of poverty among women; and
• the persistent level of violence experienced by women.
These priority issues helped the Committee identify four initial subjects for study:
• funding provided through the Women’s Program at Status of Women Canada;
•pay equity; and
• access to maternity and parental benefits for self-employed workers.
Although the Standing Committee on the Status of Women was first established in 2004, there was a precedent for having a separate committee to examine women’s issues. During the 34th Parliament, the Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, Social Affairs, Seniors and the Status of Women struck a Subcommittee on the Status of Women. That subcommittee produced two important reports: a report on violence against women, entitled The War Against Women (1991), and a report on breast cancer, entitled Breast Cancer: Unanswered Questions (1992).
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