Evidence of meeting #28 for Status of Women in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was women.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Bonnie Brayton  National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network of Canada
  • Peggy Taillon  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Council on Social Development
  • Jocelyne Wasacase-Merasty  Regional Manager, Prairie Region, National Centre for First Nations Governance
  • Paige Isaac  Coordinator, First Peoples' House

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Winnipeg South Centre, MB

I'd be really interested in that. To think that the gender gap has reversed for young women.... As a mother of a daughter—I have a son too—as you've both clearly stated, it can be different. I'd be very interested in seeing that and finding out whether it's different industries that they have been attracted to. Are they entering non-traditional industries, for example?

Then, the other critical piece—because I'm not just a mom of a daughter—what's happening with boys? Is there something going on that we're not aware of? We care about everybody here. Is there a piece that's missing?

Bonnie, you were clear that the girls are increasing—

4:05 p.m.

National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network of Canada

Bonnie Brayton

Educational attainment at post-secondary levels has improved more for girls than boys. I think that's a reflection of a lot of things. I think that some of what Peggy said is very clearly part of this.

The feminist movement has been in place for several decades now. The impacts and understanding of gender and gender needs is reflected in a lot of institutions today—in educational institutions, in a lot of work. The reason we have the Status of Women committee today is because the feminist movement pushed forward at a time in our history when women were not equal, when employment opportunities, educational opportunities were not the same for men and women, and for boys and girls.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Winnipeg South Centre, MB

I'd like to ask what you, as an organization, are doing to reach out.

At the last session of this committee we had two remarkable women who are leading their companies and making a difference in terms of inclusion, just doing the right thing in the workforce.

In fact one of them said she wasn't sure she could apply for a prize. They kept asking her to apply for it. They said they wanted to give it to her because of her stats, that she had such a significant number of women working for her. She said she wasn't sure because they didn't have all these committees and the infrastructure; they were just doing the right thing.

Are you reaching out to organizations like this? Are you reaching out to build bridges based on the stats that the gender gap is changing? How are you building the bridge between your world and the world where the jobs actually are?

4:10 p.m.

National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network of Canada

Bonnie Brayton

In terms of an overall approach—I'll be very blunt, Joyce—my organization is very underfunded. In terms of how I do a lot of my work, I have to do it very creatively. One of the things that we did in DAWN as an approach is that we adopted a mantra that's really a strategic plan. Our mantra is leadership, partnership, and networking.

Coming back to what you're alluding to, there is absolutely no question in my mind that the way I'm going to move things forward for women and girls with disabilities in this country is by engaging people in leadership, including parliamentarians, in understanding their needs and issues, and in trying to provide input on the kinds of policies, strategies, and funding that will make impacts.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Winnipeg South Centre, MB

What is your mantra again? Leadership—

4:10 p.m.

National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network of Canada

Bonnie Brayton

Leadership, partnership, and networking.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Winnipeg South Centre, MB

I think you're on to something.

4:10 p.m.

National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network of Canada

Bonnie Brayton

A mantra means words for change, and that's what the mantra's about. It's how I focus my work and my approach.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Winnipeg South Centre, MB

So given that one-third of your mantra is about networking and another third is about partnership, have you created any partnerships with the private sector to help these young women?

4:10 p.m.

National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network of Canada

Bonnie Brayton

You heard me make reference to my visitor and dear colleague Kuy Chheng Treng. I think that speaks exactly to the kind of strategy DAWN is trying to take.

We recognize, as I said, that social enterprise is a really important way that we can address educational and employment issues for young women, and older women, with disabilities—for any woman with disabilities. To be really clear, that kind of approach is very much moving outside the model of looking at the government and asking how do you fix this.

It's how do we fix this together. I want you to understand that social enterprise is a really important way that the Government of Canada can start to support and make significant changes for young people with disabilities. Internships—

4:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Irene Mathyssen

Thank you very much.

Now to Ms. Sgro, please, for seven minutes.

April 4th, 2012 / 4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Thank you very much.

Thank you both for being here.

I'm going to continue with Bonnie on that whole issue of the social enterprise and Digital Divide. Would you expand a bit on that, and how did that work so well for your young visitor who is with you? How would we apply that here?

4:10 p.m.

National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network of Canada

Bonnie Brayton

I'm delighted to.

As I said, I think it would be wonderful to hear from them. I realize we can't do that today.

In terms of Digital Divide's model, the background is that somebody from California who's actually originally from Canada, Jeremy Hockenstein, was part of a group of people who were looking to expand in terms of new markets. He went into Cambodia about 10 years ago and developed the Digital Divide Data model, which is built around the idea that they have a viable social enterprise.... I'll give you an example. Their sales last year were $2.3 million. What did they do with the $2.3 million they made last year? They reinvested it in more social enterprise.

What are they doing? They're providing a technical service. As I said, I don't need to go into the specifics of it, but it's a highly technical company that has developed a market internationally, including here, and they provide services to countries around the world in terms of the work they do. But the key thing they do is that they give opportunities to young people like Chheng, who came to an organization and started at 18, as I said, with her high school degree, her ambition, and not much else in terms of support.

Chheng had really an awful lot of barriers against her chances of getting to post-secondary education. Due to the way that Digital Divide is modelled, she was able to work her way through the employment opportunities at Digital Divide while completing her degree. As I said, she's now a senior accountant there. There are colleagues of Chheng's I know who left Digital Divide and went on to other work in the private sector.

Fundamentally what social enterprise does in this particular model is that it uses education and employment experience to create revenue or, in other words, to generate human and financial capital to keep investing in more human and financial capital. It's a wonderful cycle. It takes really essentially what I would say is the capitalist model and turns it on its ear, and says no, instead of the profits going to a few, the profits are reinvested in the people on whom the social enterprise is grounded.

In this case it's very focused on creating employment for young people with disabilities and young people who are from very poor incomes. It's not specifically people with disabilities, but with an understanding that is one of the poorest communities in Cambodia or anywhere, they are inevitably one of the groups that have been focused on.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

How many Ms. Chhengs have you had an opportunity to observe or be part of...?

4:15 p.m.

National Executive Director, DisAbled Women's Network of Canada

Bonnie Brayton

In what context, Judy? I'm sorry, but I don't understand.