Vancouver has a lot of remarkable women. At Council there is gender parity excluding the Mayor’s vote. Vancouver is still waiting for its first female Mayor. At Park Board there is more work needed to establish gender equity with only three women being elected to the 7-person Board. Back in 2002, Vancouver voted for a full compliment of women on the Board. Although it’s 2016, meaningful progress on the gender equity front in government, civil society and business still has a way to go.
It was disappointing to learn that the Park Board quietly dropped a great program called the “Remarkable Women” poster series. One has to wonder why the NPA majority would cut such a low-cost program that has the potential to recognize, inspire and inform Vancouver citizens?
The “Remarkable Women”poster
The program is described on the City of Vancouver website in the following manner:
“The Vancouver Park Board established the Remarkable Women poster series from 2008 to 2014 to honour local women who have made significant contributions to arts, culture, sports, and community.
Each year, the individual stories of a select group of women from diverse backgrounds and abilities are featured on posters, which highlight the important role each woman plays in our community.
The Remarkable Women poster series program will be discontinued in 2015. A new awards program, the Awards of Excellence, will take its place. The Awards of Excellence recognizes outstanding achievements made by individuals.”
Curiously, a program that was developed to honour and inspire women has been slashed and a new program has been developed to “recognizes outstanding achievements made by ‘individuals’.” Is this part of NPA pattern that has a problem with recognizing women?
Back in 2006, when Commissioner Loretta Woodcock introduced a motion to have International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8 be formally recognized by the Park Board, the then NPA majority of the Board rejected the motion. In the press afterwards the NPA Board Chair Heather Holden explained the rejection by stating that the motion was “silly and out of the scope of the Park board’. Crazily, the NPA Commissioners claimed that celebrating International Women’s Day would cost too much and would promote “a special interest group.” Wow!
In an outrageous media blunder one of the NPA Commissioners even went so far to explain the rejection of Woodcock’s IWD motion by saying “Why isn’t there an international dog day?’ What?
Given this sad history of the NPA’s rejection of IWD, the development of the Remarkable Women’s poster series was celebrated with some excitement. The launch of each year’s poster series was marked with a reception to celebrate the women who were highlighted on these posters.
It is disappointing to learn that the Park Board has chosen to drop this program.
For low cost the Park Board celebrated women of distinction annually by developing and displaying the Remarkable Women poster series in community centres and city hall. In 2006 the NPA didn’t understand the importance of recognizing the achievements of women, and it appears that they still don’t in 2016.