March 8, 2021

Professors' research fights for gender equality, women's rights

Research examines equal pay, domestic violence during the pandemic, and gender equality in the Arcitc.
International Women's Day logo
International Women's Day

March 8 is International Women's Day, a global day of recognition celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and girls, and raising awareness of the work left to be done. In 2021, the day in Canada supports #FeministRecovery, a pledge to advance gender equality and support an inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, while the international theme is #ChooseToChallenge

Fraser v. Canada

In October 2020, Professors Jennifer Koshan and Jonnette Watson Hamilton participated in the panel discussion “Fraser v. Canada: 20/20 Vision on Equality?” which examined the Supreme Court of Canada decision that the pension regime for RCMP members discriminated on the basis of sex in the way it disadvantaged workers (disproportionately women) who job-shared due to childcare responsibilities. Panelists discussed whether the decision signals a new vision of equality and new pathways to address systemic discrimination through s. 15 of the Charter, as well as the possibilities and limitations of this decision. 

Jennifer and Jonnette also wrote about the decision on ABlawg, expanding on the discussion of adverse effects discrimination, which arises when a law that appears to be neutral on its face has a disproportionate and negative impact on members of a group identified by a prohibited ground. The pair focus on Justice Rosalie Abella’s majority decision, as it appears to be the culmination of her life-long work on equality rights and may be her last judgment on this subject before her retirement in 2021. Jennifer and Jonnette also have longer articles on Fraser forthcoming in a special issue of the journal Constitutional Forum, which will include contributions by other panelists from the 20/20 Vision event. 

COVID-19 and domestic violence

Jennifer recently co-authored the article "COVID-19, the Shadow Pandemic, and Access to Justice for Survivors of Domestic Violence," which provides a preliminary assessment of the extent to which Canada’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have prioritized the safety of women and children, with a focus on the courts and women’s access to justice. She and her co-authors also published an eBook on domestic violence laws across Canada, which is available on Can LII, and Jennifer wrote a corresponding piece that is forthcoming in the Alberta Law Review and sets out a framework for amendments to Alberta law and policy on domestic violence. 

Gender equality in the Arctic

Anna-Maria Hubert and Jennifer Koshan contributed to a forthcoming Pan-Arctic Report on Gender Equality in the Arctic. Specifically, they contributed sections on Canada’s domestic and international legal obligations surrounding women’s equality, including rights related to environmental protection and Indigenous rights. The GEAIII Report is an Arctic Council Icelandic Chairmanship project under the Sustainable Development Working Group and will be published in May of 2021.

About International Women's Day

IWD provides an important moment to showcase commitment to women's equality, launch new initiatives and action, celebrate women's achievements, raise awareness, highlight gender parity gains and more.

The day is celebrated and supported globally by industry, governments, educational institutions, community groups, professional associations, women's networks, charities and non-profit bodies, the media and more.

Collectively every person and all groups can make a difference within their sphere of influence by taking concrete action to help build a more gender equal world. From small powerful grassroots gatherings to large-scale conference and events - International Women's Day is celebrated everywhere. It's a big day for inspiration and change.