YWCA Hamilton: Voices

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The future is not a place to which we are going, it is a place we are creating. The paths to the future are not found, but made, and the activity of them changes both the maker and the destination

~Martha Cleary


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superfreakonomics and sexwork

Take a look at this article in the Guardian that makes the argument that the authors of the new book “Superfreakonmics” got it all wrong when they wrote their chapter on sex work.

Here’s an exerpt from the article:

Good news, ladies. You, too, can make millions by charging for sex! And you’ll just have a slam-bang, gee-golly splendiferous time doing it, too – at least if you absolutely adore the sort of men who pay for it. Be warned, however: Disliking those men will consign you to the minimum-wage ranks of sex professionals, forever longing for the big bucks you could be earning, had you only an appropriately chipper attitude….

Levitt and Dubner build their piece around a comparison of two prostitutes: Allie, who works from her bedroom and makes between $350 and $500 an hour, depending on the client, and LaSheena, who works on the streets and probably makes about $350 a week, based on statistics (some information – any information – as to LaSheena’s specific circumstances and earnings probably would have helped the comparison, but Levitt and Dubner seem, in this instance as in many others, not to have bothered learning about their subject).

LaSheena and Allie are the Goofus and Gallant of sex work, at least in the warped little scenario laid forth in the Superfreakonomics excerpt. Arising, as Levitt and Dubner seem to assume they do, from absolutely no context whatsoever (the fact that Allie is probably white, and that LaSheena is probably not, is never once addressed, for example; neither is the personal history of LaSheena explored in any detail, though we hear about Allie at excruciating length) they are not actual women so much as they are flattened-out, hollow caricatures of Success and Failure. Allie is a good prostitute; she has succeeded. LaSheena is a bad prostitute; she has failed.


Be sure to take a look- it’s a very interesting article.

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Women beaten in India after being accused of being “witches”

BBC recently reported a  story about 5 women in a remote village in India that were branded as “witches” and as a result, they were dragged into the street, beaten and forced to eat feces in front of a jeering crowd. The five women are said to be Muslim widows and were labelled “witches” by female neighbours who claim to have a gift from the Holy Spirit to detect those practicing witchcraft.

Hundreds of villagers watched while the women were dragged in the streets, striped and beaten…but no one stepped in to save them.

According to BBC, hundreds of people (mostly women) have been killed after being accused of witchcraft by their neighbours.

What a graphic, inhumane example of misogyny …and how tragic is it that no one stepped in to help these women.

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Why we should observe persons day

Why should we observe Person’s Day?

What is its significance for us now- 80 years later?

October 18, 1929, women were deemed persons under the law.  The decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England to overrule the Canadian Supreme Court and declare women “persons” according to the British North America Act (our Constitution at the time), was without doubt a major victory for women and an important step on the path to equality. But it was not the end of the journey by any means. Asians were not allowed to vote until 1948, Inuit until 1950, and status Indians until 1960. Quebec was the last province to give women the provincial vote, in 1940.

 Later known as the Famous Five, the five women activists in Alberta who were responsible for the landmark decision of October 18th, had fought long and hard for women’s rights. They believed that women would bring a different perspective to the political arena and they were right.  They fought for and won legislation and measures in the areas of social assistance for widows and immigrants, protection for children, property rights for women in marriage, vocational training for impoverished working women, prison reform.  Each of them was instrumental in establishing one or more women’s institutions that carried on the work of service and equality, some that continue up to the present day: the National Council of Women; the Federation of Women’s Institutes; the Victoria Order of Nurses: the Working Girls Association (a forerunner of the YWCA of Montreal), United Farm Women of Alberta.

 The work of equality is not done, however, and women’s voices are needed more than ever in the fight for social justice and equity. Women still lag men in earning power, they still carry an unequal burden of care for children and the elderly and disabled, are still 4 times more likely to experience violence than men, are still underrepresented at all levels of government and in positions of power in our society. In a little over a month, on December 6, we will mark another key anniversary in women’s history in Canada- the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre when 14 young women were gunned down for the simple reason they were women presuming to move in a man’s world. 

 Hamilton wants to be the “best place to raise a child…” But we have failed to acknowledge that behind every poor child is a poor mother- often a single mother. Until we tackle women’s poverty we will not see a measurable improvement in child poverty. In the words of the old union hymn Bread and a Roses “The rising of the women means the rising of the race.”

 80 years later, the work of the “famous five” to have women take their rightful place alongside men in society continues. The challenges of the issue are further complicated by poverty and racism which compound the sexism in society, by perpetuating inequality between and among women from different socio-economic and ethno-racial backgrounds. Being a woman in our society puts you at a disadvantage; being a poor woman, a woman of colour, and especially being an aboriginal woman, puts you at much higher risk.

This year to mark the 80th Anniversary of Person’s Day, the Zonta Clubs of Hamilton and the YWCA have joined forces to mark the historic occasion and also to raise awareness of the work that remains to be done, especially in regards to the situation for Aboriginal women. We are hosting a special Person’s Day Breakfast on Monday October 19 at Liuna Station and have invited Dr. Dawn Martin-Hill of the Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster University to speak about the situation for aboriginal women.  Achieving equality means more than passing a law. Until all of us are equal, none of us is equal.

Catherine M. Pead, CEO

YWCA Hamilton

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October is Women’s History Month

So let’s celebrate…and learn!

According to the Status of Women Canada, “October is Women’s History Month in Canada. Proclaimed in 1992 by the Government of Canada, Women’s History Month provides an opportunity for Canadians to learn about the important contributions of women and girls over time to our society – and to the quality of our lives in the 21st century.”

The 2009 Women’s History Month theme is Women in the Lead: Winter Sports. This is particularly relevant as Vancouver prepares to host the world for the winter Olympics in February.

Check out the Status of Women website for more details!


AND…October is also Breast Cancer Awareness month. Remind someone you love (and yourself!) to learn how to do a self breast exam or schedule a mammogram! 


YWCA Hamilton offers a post breast cancer exercise program called ENCORE.

If you’ve experienced breast cancer and are looking for a way to rebuild your stregth, confidence and to build community with other survivors call 905 522 9922 for more information!