The 52% Solution

A comprehensive feminist alternative to the conservative political agenda.

By Marion Mathieson

At the 1991 Annual General Meeting, NAC (National Action Committee on the Status of Women) members from across Canada voted to adopt a campaign to develop a comprehensive feminist alternative to the conservative economic and social agenda of the country. Women agreed that the time for focusing on single issues was over. The acknowledgment that all the issues were interconnected made sense of the decision to take a holistic approach when looking for alternatives to the global conservative agenda. We called it the "52% Solution" Campaign.

The campaign has been successful in developing a Women's Chatter after several months of consultation and discussion with member groups The Charter, (now renamed the Women's Agenda) is a working document which summarizes the past 20 years of women's political organizing in Canada. It was launched at the 1992 AGM in June and will serve as an agenda for our struggle over the coming years.

As the Women's Agenda was taking shape, we found that NAC had in place a series of policies on economic, social, non-military security and constitutional issues, many of which came about in reaction to government policy. These NAC policies now provide the basis for the coherent alternatives outlined in the Women's Agenda and represent an important attempt to develop our own agenda in a more pro-active way.

Two of the seven sections should be of particular interest to peace activists: "International Solidarity and World Peace" and "Environment." Based on NAC's submission to the Citizens' Inquiry into Peace and Security, they reflect the thoughtful comments both of women who attended regional meetings and who wrote to the working commit-tee.

I will end on a hopeful note by quoting three promises in the Women's Agenda document: "The women's movement is diverse and broad and shares goals with many other social movements such as the labour, peace and environmental movements. We will build coalitions within and outside the women 5 movement, within and beyond Canada, to achieve democratic consensus and mass mobilization in our efforts to attain our goals. We will take responsibility for building and strengthening a broad and unified people's movement based on a common agenda to attain equality and justice.

We must work for peace in our time and for the wellbeing of the earth and all life in

Marion Mathieson works with the Global Survival Committee of NAC.

The Women's Agenda

Selections from the draft women's charter

Section 2: International Solidarity and World Peace

Global peace is an achievable goal. Canada can play a major role in negotiating new definitions of peace and security.

It is essential to remove the foundations of violence at every level of patriarchal society-from local police and political structures through to international relations.

The creation of a safe and secure society that guarantees dignity and respect for all life requires the equal participation of women and men.

There must be global demilitarization and an end to international weapons trade and to war exercises. We will not support governments giving subsidies to companies that produce military goods end technology. We want to see an end to military testing in Canadian territories and elsewhere. We went Canada to withdraw from all military alliances: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the North American Aerospace Defence Agreement and the Defence Production Sharing Agreements.

Canada's military budget should be redirected to education and social services, economic development end environmental programs. Its military installations and military production facilities must be converted to socially productive uses.

We must make Canada a nuclear-free zone.

Section 7: Environment

As feminists, we are committed to new policies that promote respect for the planet. Economic development has too long been pursued at the cast of environmental degradation. It is rime to shift our priorities to give primacy to protect our home the planet earth. This is an obligation we have to ourselves, to our children end to our sisters and brothers around the world. Protecting our environment needs to be at the expense of jobs or of funding of other social needs.

A new commitment to environmental protection must be reflected in Canada's domestic policy Sustainability and healthy working conditions are concepts that should guide resource development and economic policies in Canada and in countries receiving aid from Canada. The pursuit of better and enforceable environmental standards will protect workers and communities in Canada and across the globe.

Women deserve to be equitably represented in local, provincial and federal bodies that set policies for a safer and cleaner environment.

Peace Magazine Jul-Aug 1992

Peace Magazine Jul-Aug 1992, page 14. Some rights reserved.

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