Take action for human rights | Amnesty International Canada

Take action for human rights | Amnesty International Canada

TheCanadian government is expected to make a decision on the Northern  Gateway Pipeline proposal in the coming months. Despite a lengthy review process, the federal government has still not adequately addressed the rights of First Nations who would be affected by the pipeline.

In 2011, 61 First Nations in British Columbia whose traditional territories would be crossed by the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, or who depend on downstream or coastal waters, issued a declaration  opposing the oil sands pipeline. They called the pipeline a “grave  threat” to their cultures and to future generations.

The federal government must listen to these and other First Nations and agree that the pipeline will not go ahead without their consent. 
4 reasons why the Northern Gateway pipeline must not be approved against the wishes of affected First Nations:
  1. Indigenous peoples have the right to make their own decisions about how and when their lands will be used.
  2. Canadian courts have clearly said that the failure to negotiate treaties or other resolution of longstanding land and resource disputes should not give governments the power to “run roughshod” over Indigenous peoples’ rights.
  3. International human rights standards, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of  Indigenous Peoples, require the highest standard of precaution in all decisions potentially affecting Indigenous peoples’ relationship with their lands and territories.
  4. When there is potential for serious harm – whether because of the scale and nature of the project or because of the harms that have already been inflicted on Indigenous peoples – the standard of precaution required is that decisions should be made with Indigenous peoples’ free, prior and informed consent
Amnesty International is urging the federal government to listen to these First Nations and agree that the project should not proceed against their wishes. Take action now


OHRC launch new Policy on preventing discrimination because of gender identity and gender expression

The Ontario Human Rights Commission
Invites you to the launch of our new Policy on preventing discrimination because of gender identity and gender expression

Date: Monday, April 14, 2014
Time: 10 a.m. to 12 noon
Place: The 519 Church Street Community Centre, Ballroom
            519 Church Street, Toronto, ON M4Y 2C9

People who are transgender, or who otherwise don’t conform to gender stereotypes, come from all walks of life.
trans people are one of the most disadvantaged groups in society.
They routinely experience prejudice, discrimination, harassment, hatred and even violence
The OHRC’s new policy promotes understanding and awareness about trans people and their rights.
Join us to learn about how to prevent and deal with discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.
This policy can help:
  • trans people, organizations and advocates
  • employers
  • housing providers
  • service providers
  • unions and other vocational associations.
To attend, please respond by email to by April 7, 2014.
If you would like to respond by telephone, call Alicia Carr at 416-314-4526.
If you need any Human Rights Code-related accommodations such as sign language interpretation,
real-time captioning or materials in an electronic format,
please let us know by email to, or call Alicia Carr 416-314-4526.

International Day for the Elimination of Racism Awards Thursday, March 20, 2014

International Day for the Elimination of Racism Awards
Thursday, March 20, 2014
12:45pm to 2:00pm
OISE Library
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
252 Bloor St W (St. George Subway, Bedford entrance)

Official 2014 U of T IDERD Award Ceremony & Screening of the  video "Other[ed.]: What is decolonizing education in the post-secondary setting?"


Events Listing | Toronto Seed Library - Hart House March 20

Events Listing | Toronto Seed Library

-March 20 Dig In!’s 4th Annual Spring ShinDIG!
Hart House at UofT
When? Thursday, March 20  From 12-3pm
What? An annual discussion, networking, and social
event for the gardening community, featuring a screening of “Growing
Cities” – a film about urban farming in America


Gail McCabe to appear on Zoomer TV March 17

Gail McCabe to appear on Zoomer TV March 17

Gail McCabe, spokesperson for the Ontario Humanist Society and the Humanist Association of Toronto, will appear on The Zoomer, as part of a panel debating the concept of the “Afterlife.” The show includes interviews and panel discussions focusing on topics of interest to Zoomers (the 50+ set). The program is hosted by Conrad Black and Denise Donlon.

The show airs on a weekly basis on Mondays at 9:00 pm. Gail will appear on the March 17th edition

The taping of the Zoomer show on March 12th will take place at 64 Jefferson Avenue in Liberty Village (3 blocks east of Dufferin south of King Street). You are all invited to attend and to join the audience for a cocktail and canape get-together at 3:30 or 3:45 pm that day.

From Zoomer TV:
Despite a rise in secularism, 70% of Canadians (63% of Zoomers 55+) believe in life after death. The question of what happens to us after corporeal death is a hot topic with a glut of media detailing near death experiences as well as contact with guardian angels in times of duress. But what is behind this new compulsion to believe?

And how does this belief differ from traditional belief systems? However comforting it might be, some traditionalists criticize “new agers” for adopting a convenient spirituality that isn’t subject to an omniscient authority figure.

But, even the Vatican is taking heed, appointing Fr. Renzo Lavator as its “angelologist”. He says angels are “back in fashion” thanks to New Age religions but forget old images of cherubic, harp-playing winged beings. Today’s angel is merely a shard of light, not so much seen as felt.

Still, exactly what happens after we expire is hotly debated among true believers, new age spiritualists, agnostics and atheists. And, if the afterlife does exist, it’s not clear what those on the other side are trying to tell us, if anything at all.

Wherever we stand on the belief-o-meter, one thing’s for certain: death and what happens after can have a profound impact on how we live our lives today.

Child marriage a human rights violation, advocates say | Toronto Star

Child marriage a human rights violation, advocates say | Toronto Star

The issue of child marriage is part of a new Amnesty International campaign, launched ahead of International Women’s Day
on Saturday. In it, the human rights group calls on governments to
secure sexual and reproductive rights, saying the health and safety of
women and girls is under threat.
“It is unbelievable that in the 21st century some countries are condoning child marriage and marital rape while others are outlawing abortion, sex outside marriage and same-sex sexual activity,” Salil Shetty, the group’s secretary general, said in a statement.
“As an ethical issue, as a human rights issue, those of us who want to
see a better world need to deeply care about what is happening to young
children, adolescent girls, who lack choice and voice, and what happens
to them,” Nataraj says. “If we want to respect our own humanity, I think
we really need to be concerned about what is happening, and the scale
at which it is happening.”


UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon pledges support for international campaign to fight FGM - video | Society |

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon pledges support for international campaign to fight FGM - video | Society |

In a meeting with 17-year-old campaigner Fahma Mohamed from Integrate
Bristol and editors from the Guardian, the UN secretary general, Ban
Ki-moon, praises the power of journalism to bring about change, and
promises to do all he can to help roll out the successful UK model


International Women's Day, 8 March - Statement from Ban Ki Moon

International Women's Day, 8 March

 Ban Ki Moon:

"Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth.
Companies with more women leaders perform better. Peace agreements that include women are more durable. Parliaments with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination and child support. The evidence is clear: equality for women means progress for all."

International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.
This year’s theme, “Equality for women is progress for all”  emphasizes how gender equality, empowerment of women, women’s full enjoyment of human rights and the eradication of poverty are essential to economic and social development. It also stresses the vital role of women as agents of development.


March 8 is International Women's Day. Science For Peace presents a Free event March 9.

event page:
Science for Peace panel discussion
entitled “International Women’s Day (2014) – Revisiting Violence Against Women:
Focus Turkey” to be held on Sunday, March 9, 2014, at Bahen Centre, 40
St. George Street
 , Room 1170 between 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. The panelists
are Professors: Aysan Sev’er, Sedef Arat Koc, Idil Atak, and (4th TBA).  Prof.
Mustafa Koc will kindly moderate the event. 
When it comes to gender equality, the World Economic Forum ranks Turkey 127th amongst 136 countries. In the last 3 years, more than 500 women have been murdered due to male jealousy and intolerance for women’s self-determination. This number continues to rise and leaves no hope for the girls of the next generation.
In 2006 the Turkish Government pledged to protect women and in 2010 created their National Action Plan for Combating Domestic Violence Against Women. Women are still unable to get the help that they deserve, while the legal institutions
continue to favor their murderers.
The panel will give their views on the implications of practices in gender equality
and violence against women.

Women Still Walk Two Steps Behind in Arab World - Inter Press Service/ UN status of women

Women protest in Tunis to demand protection of their rights. Credit: Giuliana Sgrena/IPS
Women protest in Tunis to demand protection of their rights. Credit:

Women Still Walk Two Steps Behind in Arab World - Inter Press Service

 [Interesting analysis from the UN]

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 6 2014 (IPS) -
In much of the Arab world, women’s participation in the labour force is
the lowest in the world, according to the United Nations, while women
in politics are a rare breed both in the Middle East and North Africa. Perhaps one of the few exceptions is Algeria, says Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of U.N. Women.

"There is no doubt that culture and religion play some role, but the fact
remains that over the past 30 years, and particularly in the last
decade, we have seen the rising tide of very conservative forces in the
region." -- Sanam Anderlini

The North African nation has reached the critical mass of some 30
percent of women parliamentarians, while Saudi Arabia has broken new
ground by welcoming women to the Shura council.

Still, with a regional average of female parliamentarians just above
12 percent, the Arab world remains far behind the already low global
average of 20 percent, according to U.N figures. Asked whether this was due to cultural or religious factors, Puri told IPS, “It is not easy to pinpoint a single cause for the low level
of women’s participation in the labour force and in politics in the Arab
world, and more generally, around the world.”
She said there is no doubt that entrenched gender stereotypes and
social norms that condone discrimination against women play a negative
role, but other factors also need to be taken into account.
These include, for example, access to and quality of education,
opportunities to reconcile professional or political life with family
responsibilities, the overall structure of the labour market, and
prevalence of violence against women.
When representatives of women’s organisations meet in New York next
week, one of the many issues before the U.N. Commission on the Status of
Women (CSW) will be the low level of women’s participation in the
labour force and in political and social life worldwide.
The CSW, scheduled to hold its annual sessions Mar. 10-21, is the
primary inter-governmental policy-making body on gender equality and
advancement of women. This year’s session will focus on challenges and achievements in the
implementation of the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),
specifically for women and girls.
Sanam Anderlini, co-founder of the International Civil Society Action
Network (ICAN) and a senior fellow at the Center for International
Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), told IPS:
“We should steer clear of assuming that the low levels of participation
in public spaces – political and economic – are ‘entrenched ‘cultural or
religious values.
“There is no doubt that culture and religion play some role, but the
fact remains that over the past 30 years, and particularly in the last
decade, we have seen the rising tide of very conservative forces in the
region – largely supported by regional governments themselves – that are
promoting a regressive agenda towards women.”  Let’s not forget that Egypt had a feminist movement in the 19th century, she added.

Puri listed several factors that negatively affect outcomes for women and girls.

These, she pointed out, include family codes and parallel traditional
legal and justice systems that deny women property and inheritance
rights, access to productive resources, sanction polygamy and early and
child marriages, and put women at a disadvantage in marriage and

At the same time, it is essential to tackle negative
misinterpretations of religion or culture that not only condone but
perpetuate myths about inherent inequality between men and women and
justify gender-based discrimination.
“As we at UN Women have pointed out, along with many faith-based and
other organisations, equality between women and men was propounded
centuries ago in the Arab region,” Puri said.
At the same time, governments along with all stakeholders, including
civil society, need to put in place an enabling environment in order to
increase women’s participation in all spheres of life, said Puri
Anderlini told IPS that in the Arab world – like any other part of
the world – there are always different cultural forces at play
simultaneously: conservative and progressive. But in the Arab world, the conservative forces are seeking to erase or discredit the gains made in the past.
“They like to associate ‘women’s rights’ with immorality and
westernisation. It is a clear political agenda that is being fomented
and we must not fall for the notion that it is ‘cultural’ or
religious’,” said Anderlini, who was appointed last year to the Working
Group on Gender and Inclusion of the Sustainable Development Network for
the U.N.’s post-2015 economic agenda.
She also said Islam calls for equal rights to education for women and
men – to equal pay, to women’s rights to inheritance and participation
in public life.
“What’s being spread are extreme interpretations of Islam that may be
rooted in countries like Saudi Arabia but are newer to Egypt, Tunisia
or Lebanon,” she warned. Asked how women’s participation can be advanced in the Arab region,
Puri told IPS, “As elsewhere, achieving the advancement of women’s
participation in the political, economic and social spheres in the Arab
States requires interventions at multiple levels.”
First, a reform of state constitutions and laws as well as of
traditional legal and justice systems and the creation of a conducive
policy environment based on international women’s rights norms and
instruments, such as the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of
Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the 1995 Beijing Platform for
Action, needs to be in place.
This environment should not only allow, but also encourage women to participate in the work force and in public life.