Jun 272013
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In six years, new NB feminist group has met four key goals.

by Jody Dallaire

The Regroupement féministe du Nouveau-Brunswick’s (RFNB for short, which translates to the Feminist Organization of New Brunswick) was founded by New Brunswick women in June 2007, and is already having a considerable impact on public policy and on the Acadian community.

Over the past year, the organization focused its work on four main goals:

1) Reinstating an independent voice for New Brunswick Women. The RFNB began this work in 2011 when the provincial government announced that it was abolishing all provincial funding allotted to the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women. Following the abolition of the Council, the RFNB stepped up to play a significant role in co-ordinating an Ad- hoc committee for an Advisory Council on the Status of Women, composed of several individual members from across the province and representatives from organizations working on women, Acadian, labour and social justice issues. 

Although the RFNB is a very small organization, the organization brought this provincial mobilization to a positive conclusion. On May 31, 2013, the provincial government announced that it would be reinstating a publicly-funded independent voice to advance women`s equality in New Brunswick: the Voices of New Brunswick Women Consensus-Building Forum . Several questions remain on how this Consensus-Building Forum will function.

Nevertheless, the government's recognition that New Brunswick still needs a publicly-funded and independent voice for women is a significant victory for the Women’s Movement.

2) The RFNB also focused its energy on Including gender-based analysis in the provincial government`s decision-making process and within Acadian non-profit organizations — again, with positive results. Over the past year, the Société de l`Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick (SANB) has adopted gender equality as one of its priorities and struck a committee to bring forth recommendations on the subject matter. The work of this committee is overseen by the RFNB. Recently the SANB adopted several policy changes to improve women`s participation in the organization.

As for including gender based analysis in the provincial government`s policy process, the RFNB continues its work of raising awareness with provincial elected officials.

3) Another priority of the RFNB is participating in the organization of Sommet des femmes, an event organized as part of the 2014 Congrès Mondial Acadien in Edmundston (Women`s Summit, part of the World`s Acadian Convention). The RFNB coordinates the steering committee that is organizing this important event which will be held on August 17, 18 and 19th 2014 under the theme of: Partout les femmes décident…les femmes agissent! (Where women participate in the decide-making process, women take action!).

4) And finally, the RFNB received three years of funding from Status of Women Canada to coordinate a project to improve women`s representation in the media. If you recall, a couple of years ago, the RFNB released a study demonstrating that women are under-represented in the Francophone media, even in sectors where women are represent a majority (for example: education, health care services and the arts). This project aims at changing that reality. So far over 140 women have attended media training session and 60 women are participating in media mentoring. To date 32 project participants have been quoted in the media.

This was just a brief overview of how this one non-profit organization is having a positive impact on the lives of women in New Brunswick —  even  though governments across the board are reducing funding for advocacy work and research.

As one participant at the RFNB`s AGM so eloquently said – that for her being a feminist is a matter of pride.  Loosely defined, being a feminist means being in favor of gender equality. Who would not be proud to be proponent of equality between women and men, right?

Over the next year, the RFNB has a lot of work planned to improve women`s equality in New Brunswick.  Gender-based analysis, women`s representation in the media, and planning the 2014 Women`s Summit in Edmundston remain priorities for the organization. Defining what the recently announced publicly-funded independent voice for women looks like will also be big part of the RFNB`s work over the next year, as well as the topic of engaging young women.

About Jody Dallaire

Jody Dallaire lives and works in Dieppe New Brunswick where she writes a weekly column on women's equality issues and matters of social justice. Email: jody.dallaire@rogers.com.

© Copyright 2013 Jody Dallaire, All rights Reserved. Written For: StraightGoods.ca

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