The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan

 

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Status of Women Office

In November 1964, a Women’s Division was established as part of the Labour Standards Branch within the Saskatchewan Department of Labour. The Division Supervisor was Mary Rocan, who was head of the unit for the next twelve years. It was one of the first provincial government units in Canada dedicated to the advancement of women. Labour Standards administered employment-related Acts including the Female Employment Act. The Women’s Division investigated, examined and evaluated information, legislation and conditions relevant to the employment of women. Renamed the Women’s Bureau in 1966, it took on the roles of researching Saskatchewan women’s participation in the labour force and providing career information to women. During the 1970s the Bureau’s role shifted to the promotion of equal opportunity, prevention of employment discrimination against women through intensive education, and monitoring of suspected discrimination. In 1974, a group of private citizens called the Saskatchewan Advisory Council on the Status of Women was established to provide advice and recommendations to the government on women’s issues.

On January 1, 1984, the Women’s Secretariat Act established the Women’s Secretariat as a separate government agency reporting directly to the first Saskatchewan Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, Pat Smith. The Secretariat provided research, policy analysis, and administrative support to the government on matters related to the status of women. During the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, the Women’s Secretariat was responsible for ensuring that women’s concerns were integrated into the mainstream of government planning and policy development. The social and economic well-being of women, the elimination of violence, and the promotion of the value of women’s paid and unpaid work were priorities for the Secretariat.

Effective April 1, 2002, the Women’s Secretariat was merged with the Department of Labour, and the Status of Women Office was created. The office provides strategic direction and leadership to government on policy direction affecting the status of women, and is a single window into government for women’s organizations. This new structure includes advisors on Women’s Policy in all government departments and major Crowns, whose roles are to facilitate a gender perspective in the development of programs, policies and legislation, and to identify and provide analysis on issues impacting women. In October 2003, the Action Plan for Saskatchewan Women was released along with a companion piece, Government Initiatives Responding to Women’s Issues. Annual forums are held to provide an opportunity for women’s groups to talk about issues and provide feedback on Action Plan progress reports.

Donna Braun, Gail Quinney

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