Letter to Mayor Jim Watson

March 27, 2018

Jim Watson
Mayor of Ottawa
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1

Mayor Watson:

This letter is to seek your support for the proposal - put forth by Councillor Deans - for a Special Liaison for Women’s Issues and a Women’s Bureau as part of the 2019 Governance update.

By way of context, the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW) is a non-profit, non-partisan coalition of forty organizations and individuals in the City of Ottawa and surrounding regions.

Our members and partners include women abuse and rape crisis agencies; victim services; child protection services; representatives of area hospitals; representatives of the justice system, including the police, the Crown, and probation and parole services; health and counselling services; academic researchers; and other concerned community members.

OCTEVAW plays a vital coordinating role in addressing violence against women and their children (VAW) and gender-based violence (GBV). We do so by bridging the gaps between front-line service providers, policy makers, and the justice system, working collaboratively to address problems, developing tools and educational programs and serving the community through political action and advocacy.

We are pleased to note that the City currently applies the Equity and Inclusion Lens  created by the City of Ottawa in partnership with the City for All Women Initiative. This framework includes Gender Based Analysis+ and we understand that it has strong support by City staff and that training on this framework is happening throughout the City.

While we applaud this initiative, Ottawa can and must do more. Councillor Deans has noted that “the role of the Women’s Bureau would be to apply a gender equality lens to new and existing city policies and programs in order to remove the systemic and historical barriers for women in our city. A gender focused approach would ensure that we are creating policy that is inclusive and responsive to the varying needs of all people in our communities.”

As a community based organization working to address issues faced by diverse individuals and communities across the city, OCTEVAW agrees strongly with this perspective. A Women’s Bureau would:

  • Serve to reinforce the framework already in place and hold the City accountable for the implementation of this framework and other initiatives;
  • Signal the City’s steadfast leadership and commitment to ensuring that our City continues to be one committed to meeting the needs of women from a range of backgrounds and communities as well as individuals who identify as gender fluid or trans;
  • Act as a coordination and policy nexus point to serve to ensure that Gender-Based Violence is a central component in the planning and delivery of programs and services in the City;
  • And ideally serve to support the City of Ottawa towards achieving gender parity on council as well as in senior leadership roles within the City bureaucracy. 

We ask for your leadership and support – and that of other City leaders – with respect to the upcoming vote on March 28, 2018.

It is our hope that Ottawa can build on this important initiative to increase political participation of women and gender non-conforming individuals from diverse communities.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this important proposal.

Sincerely,

Carrolyn Johnston, MSW, RSW
Acting Executive Director

CC:  All City of Ottawa Councillors

City Hall photo By Jean-Luc Henry