Category Archives: What we’re thinking/reading/doing (IFLS blog)

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Feb 28-March 1 in Kingston: Feminist Legal Studies Queen's presents Arctic/Northern Women: Situating Law & Justice in Development and Equality

This picture of a woman's hand holding an ulu is taken from - the Flickr stream of the Rosemary Gillat Fonds held by Library and Archives CanadaArctic/Northern Women: Situating Law and Justice in Development and Equality: In celebration of Dr. Patricia A. Monture

Click here for FLSQ queens page for this workshop

via Prof. Kathy Lahey (Kingston) with a reminder that students will have free registration, daytime meals, and a break on the dinner price as well.

Jan. 31, 2014 draft

FLSQ Program: Arctic/Northern Women

Friday, Feb. 28, 2014
11:30 Registration – Robert Sutherland Hall, Policy Studies room 202 – light lunch

12:30 Welcome and introduction to conference themes

Janice Hill, Four Directions Student Centre, Queen’s University

Åsa Gunnarsson, Umeå Forum for Studies on Law and Society, Umeå
University, Sweden

1:00 Keynote address: Eva-Maria Svensson, Gothenburg and Tromso
Universities, Principal’s Development Fund International Visitor –
‘Approaches to Gender Equality in Regional Governance of the Arctic Region’

2:20 Break

2:35 Panel I Governance and Voice: Indigenous Peoples, Women,
Climate, and Corporations

Tahnee Prior, Global Governance Program, Balsillie School of International
Affairs, University of Waterloo — ‘The Rights and Role of Indigenous Women
in Climate Change Regulation’

Vrinda Narain, Faculty of Law and Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and
Feminist Studies, McGill University – ‘Postcolonial Constitutionalism:
Complexities and Contradictions’

Kathleen Lahey, Faculty of Law, Queen’s University – ‘Gender, Indigenous
Peoples, and the Paradox of Plenty in Resource Rich Regions’

4:00 Panel II Appropriations and Dependencies: Women and Earnings,
Livelihoods, Knowledges, and Aging in Arctic Regions

Elena Kotyrlo, Demographic Data Base, Umeå University, Sweden – ‘Earnings
and Labor Force Participation of Native and Immigrant Women in
Vasterbotten and Norrbotten’

Shahnaj Begum, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland – ‘Livelihood
Transformation in the Arctic: Effects on Older People from a Gender-based
Perspective with a Special Focus on Finnish Lapland’
Lena Wennberg, Umeå Forum for Studies on Law and Society, Umeå
University – ‘Women and Aging in the Arctic Region’

Bita Amani, Faculty of Law, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario –
‘Restitution, Repatriation, and Resistance: Reframing the Biopiracy Dialogue
toward Women’s Work and Traditional Indigenous Knowledge’

5:30 Cash bar
6:00 Dinner

7:30 Celebrating Patricia Monture – Her Legacy in Activism and Learning

Kim Pate, Canadian Association of EFrye Societies and University of Ottawa –
‘Canada Corrections and Marginalized Women – Trish Monture’s Legacies’

Rakhi Ruparelia, University of Ottawa – ‘Legal Feminism and the Post-Racism

Saturday, March 1, 2014

8:30 Registration

9:00 Keynote Address: Rauna Kuokkanen, Department of Political Science and
Aboriginal Studies Program, University of Toronto – ‘Indigenous Economies,
Self-Determination, and Women’s Rights’

10:20 Break

10.35 Panel III Women and Economic Development: Roadmaps and

Louise Langevin, Faculty of Law, Laval University – ‘Gender-based Analysis of
Discrimination against Women – ‘Economic Development and Women’s
Bargaining Power’

Kate McInturff, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – ‘Gender Equality
and Women in the Arctic: Mapping the Future’

Gail Baikie, Faculty of Social Work, Dalhousie University – ‘Rhetoric and
Realities: The Mokami Status of Women Council’s Environmental Assessment

12:00 Lunch

1:00 Panel IV Gendered Dislocations, Ruptures, and Violences

Hege Brækhus, University of Tromsø, Norway – ‘International Marriages:
Russian Women Marrying Norwegian Men’

Rachel Kohut, Arctic Institute, Montreal – ‘Imagining Birth Dislocated from
Medicine: The Interconnectedness of the State and the Birthing Process
in Canada’s North’

Monica Burman, Umeå Forum for Studies on Law and Society, Umeå
University – ‘Men’s Violence against Sami Women — A blind Swedish Spot’

Cindy Hanson, Adult Education/HRD, University of Regina, Saskatchewan –
‘Gender Lens on the Indian Residential School Claims Process’

3:00 Break

3:30 Panel V Arctic/Northern Prostitution and Sex Trafficking

Marguerite Russell, Barrister and Solicitor (Ont. and UK) – ‘Trafficking in
Women: International Legal Perspectives’

Victoria Sweet, Michigan State University College of Law – ‘Rising Waters,
Rising Threats: Human Trafficking and Other Gender-Related Crimes
in the Circumpolar Region of the United States and Canada’

Åsa Yttergren, Umeå Forum for Studies on Law and Society, Umeå University
– ‘Prostitution and Trafficking in the North of Sweden – The “Swedish Model”
in Action’

4:45 Closing discussion: publication and followup plans

The picture is of a woman’s hand holding an ulu.  The full picture can be seen at the source: – the Flickr stream of the Rosemary Gillat Fonds held by Library and Archives Canada.   An ulu is a “woman’s knife” ᐅᓗ.

Women use all kinds of tools, of course.  Have you seen this website – Feeding my Family ?  An eyeopener about food security in the North.  See also 15 Sw. J. Int’l L. 223 (2008-2009)
Northern Frontier, Northern Homeland: Inuit People’s Food Security in the Age of Climate Change and Arctic Melting by the University of Ottawa’s Sophie Theriault. Click here for access via Hein online (not open access),  Another article to consider is Isabel Altamirano-Jiménez (U of A) Nunavut: Whose Homeland, Whose Voices? Canadian Woman Studies26.3/4 (Winter/Spring 2008): 128-134 (also not available open access – try  via ProQuest if you have access to the database through your institution.

CFP: Gendered Dissent, Democracy and the Law: A workshop on the gendered face of Canada’s crackdown on dissent


via Osgoode graduate students Estair van Wagner and Charis Kempuis:

Gendered Dissent, Democracy and the Law:

A workshop on the gendered face of Canada’s crackdown on dissent


May 12-13, 2014  Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, Ontario

The Gender & Dissent Working Group of the Dissent, Democracy & the Law Research Network and the Institute for Feminist Legal Studies invite proposals for papers and other interventions to be presented at a workshop that aims to bring scholars and advocates together to consider the gendered dimensions of dissent in Canada and Quebec.

The Workshop:  This two-day workshop will bring a small and diverse group of legal scholars and advocates together in Toronto to theorize, and respond to, the challenges faced by advocates and civil society organizations and individuals working on issues of gender equality in Canada and Quebec.  In many cases, these challenges stem from governmental use of legal and extralegal measures that undermine the capacity of individuals, civil society organizations and institutions to participate in public debate on key policy issues at the local, provincial or federal level.


Gendered Dissent, Democracy & the Law  Concerns about the increasing constriction of legal and political space for civil society organizations in Canada resonate with global discussions about the restriction of dissent and other efforts to control public dialogue about government policy and action. While the nature of the state-civil society relationship is a site for ongoing debate, the freedom to critique and oppose government decisions and positions is an essential element of ensuring healthy democratic institutions and practices, including the protection of fundamental human rights.


In Canada, a combination of legal and policy measures have functioned to reduce the legal, financial and political space available to civil society organizations, particularly those whose work and public positions differ from those of the government. A number of specific methods employed by the federal government to restrict dissent have been identified through preliminary research by the Voices-Voix Documentation Project: the threat or revocation of charitable status, defunding, harassment/privacy violation, withholding information, interference with independent institutions, surveillance, and vilification/smearing.  In some cases, rhetorical vilification has carried implicit or even explicit overtones of criminalization.[1] Media reports have pointed to the Voices-Voix research in highlighting the federal government’s attack on dissent.[2] Further theoretical inquiry into the impact of such tactics on democratic institutions and practices, at all levels of government, is an essential component of understanding the relationship between dissent and democracy.


Research undertaken to date indicates that women and gendered-focused civil society organizations attempting to critically discuss government policy decisions are the target of legal and extralegal measures that undermine their capacity to participate in public debate and dissent on important policy issues. In particular, it appears that these practices have impacted those working on gender and socio-economic equality. While the application of these measures to women and groups working on gender issues appears to be part of a broader shift in the relationship between the state and civil society, a close examination of the gender-based features of this shift has the potential to bring specific nuance and insight into the political nature of this shift. The Gendered Dissent, Democracy and the Law workshop will be a focused examination aimed at documenting and theorizing gender and dissent in Canada. We also acknowledge that this focus has limitations, particularly with respect to how one draws the boundaries between ‘gender’ issues and other civil society issues. As such, we encourage debate on both the substantive issues articulated here, as well as the very terms of their articulation.


Call for Submissions:  

We welcome interventions from scholars, civil society organizations and advocates that aim to:

a)     Document and describe specific instances and impacts of particular state measures, at any level of government, on public advocacy efforts and/or civil society organizations working on gender issues in order to develop an empirical picture of the problem;

b)     Document and describe state support for organizations whose work and public positions support current policy goals, and other promotional tactics, towards the construction of representations of public “agreement” or “support” for specific policy decisions and/or constructions of gender, nationhood and race;

c)      Examine the historical context of the relationship between the state and public advocacy efforts and/or civil society organizations working on gender issues to explore whether the current restriction of dissent is qualitatively different than in the past, and if so, how;

d)     Critically consider whether and how state practices targeting dissent are distinctive when they are aimed at women or gendered groups; and,

e)     Draw links between particular instances to identify broader themes with regards to the constriction of legal and political space for advocates and civil society organizations working on gender equality issues and the relationship between dissent and democracy.


Please submit proposals along with a CV for each author to by February 21, 2014. Proposals should be approximately 250 words in length and should identify whether the intervention will be offered as a scholarly paper or in another format, such as a case study or report or multimedia presentation. Papers (approximately 10 pages in length) will be circulated by the organizers 10-days in advance of the workshop; other interventions will be shared in advance as appropriate.


We regret that participation in the workshop will be limited to a small group. We anticipate that we will be unable to accept all of the proposals we receive. However, it is our hope that the workshop will launch ongoing inquires into this topic and related issues. We will communicate both the results of the workshop and plans for follow-up events with all applicants and we look forward to future collaborations.


The organizers aim to have scholarly paper submissions published in a special issue of a selected law journal. Contributions which take other forms will be published or otherwise shared in collaboration with our civil society partners as appropriate.


Travel Funds

Although we have limited funds, we may be able to provide modest support and assistance with travel and accommodation expenses.  If you require assistance to attend the workshop, please provide the details of the cost for return travel to Toronto and accommodation and indicate other funding sources you have identified/applied to as well as the portion of your expenses you are able to cover. We will notify accepted participants of any funding we can offer as soon as possible.

[1] The Voices-Voix civil society coalition was formed in 2010 in response to concerns about the restriction of political space for civil society organizations. The Documentation Project aims to research and record specific cases: Since September 2013, the Dissent, Democracy & the Law Editorial Board has undertaken to conduct peer-reviewed research that advances the digital publication of the Documentation Project. A description of the Board and its members can be found here:

[2] For example, see Linda Diebel’s November 2013, “Meanness is a way of life in Ottawa” in the Toronto Star:

Today: METRAC at Osgoode (Tamar Witelson & Joanna Hayes)

METRAC4thFebJoin us today for the second in this IFLS series

Community, connections, commitment: Conversations at Osgoode
Tamar Witelson & Joanna Hayes of METRAC
Tuesday February 4th 1230-230 in Osgoode Hall 2027 (Faculty Lounge)

Legal Director Tamar Witelson & Legal Information Coordinator Joanna Hayes work for one of Toronto’s most dynamic and community engaged agencies. METRAC is a non-profit committed to the rights of women and children to live their lives free of violence and the threat of violence. METRAC also has not one but TWO legal information websites: Ontario Women’s Justice Network (OWJN) and Family Law Education for Women (FLEW)
Joanna & Tamar will discuss the work METRAC does, how they work together, their career paths, and what working in the not-for-profit sector is like. Poster available here.

From our last session, with Farrah Khan and Deepa Mattoo (click here for more)

I really enjoyed today’s conversation. It was one of the best lunch hour talks I have been to at Osgoode. I appreciated the nuance, sensitivity, and palpable commitment Farrah and Deepa exhibited towards their advocacy and work. (Osgoode 3L)
It’s so rare to hear dialogue that’s both interesting and truly candid. I felt like I got a real glimpse into the work they’re doing, and what is at stake in current feminist legal activism. It also helped me think about what the current needs are in Toronto, and how I could envision responding to them. (Osgoode 1L)

Joanna Hayes is a lawyer and the Legal Information Coordinator for METRAC’s Community Justice Program, where she is responsible for developing and delivering accessible legal information and public legal education for women and youth affected by violence. She has a varied legal background, having worked in many social justice and public interest legal organizations with a focus on immigrant and refugee rights, women’s rights, and increasing access to justice. Before joining METRAC, she articled with the Ministry of the Attorney General, where she assisted counsel at the Ministry of Labour with prosecutions under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Employment Standards Act. Joanna has worked at the Office of the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario providing legal research and policy recommendations on whistleblowing legislation. She has also done legal work in Kenya to increase access to justice for marginalized groups and in South Africa with respect to the rights of women and girls, intimate partner violence and sexual offences.

Tamar Witelson is the Legal Director at METRAC, heading METRAC’s Community Justice Program, which develops and delivers in-person, online and printed legal information and education to community support workers, and to women who have experienced abuse and violence. Tamar develops and delivers training, and has presented at seminars and conferences about human rights and diversity issues. Tamar’s legal background has spanned the public and private spheres, with a focus on equality and human rights law. Before joining METRAC, Tamar was staff lawyer at the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), where she launched an equality rights website for legal news and analysis. She has served as Counsel at the Constitutional Law Branch of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, and as Counsel at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, working on the transition to the Tribunal’s current direct access model. She also had a private practice in union-side labour and human rights law, following her Clerkship at the Supreme Court of Canada. Before becoming a lawyer, Tamar worked for twelve years in television news, political and current affairs.

CANCELLED: Dean Penny Andrews at Osgoode on New Strategies for Pursuing Women's Human Rights


Please note that flight cancellations have led to this talk being cancelled.  With apologies to all who were hoping to attend today.



Dean Penelope Andrews (Albany) will be at Osgoode Monday February 3, 2014,  and will speak from her latest book, From Capetown to Kabul: Rethinking Strategies for Pursuing Women’s Human Rights (Ashgate) 1230-230 in room 2027.  Please RSVP to Lielle Gonsalves,

The author examines and compares gender inequality in societies undergoing political, economic and legal transformation, and looks at two countries – South Africa and Afghanistan – in particular. These two societies serve as counterpoints through which the book engages, in a nuanced and novel way, with the many broader issues that flow from the attempts in newly democratic societies to give effect to the promise of gender equality. Developing the idea of ‘conditional interdependence’, the book suggests a new approach based on the communitarian values which underpin newly democratic societies and would allow women’s rights to gain momentum and reap greater benefits. [from the publisher]

Ruthann Robson reviewed the book for Jotwell, here.

More about Dean Andrews from the Albany website, here:

Dean Andrews, who was born and raised in South Africa, has extensive international experience, including teaching at law schools in Germany, Australia, Holland, Scotland, Canada and South Africa. An annual award in her name—The Penelope E. Andrews Human Rights Award—was inaugurated in 2005 at the South African law school of University of KwaZulu-Natal. Along with numerous other awards, she holds a “Women of South Africa Achievement Award,” as well as Albany Law’s Kate Stoneman Award, which she received in 2002.

In 2005 she was a finalist for a vacancy on the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the highest court in South Africa on constitutional matters. She has consulted for the United Nations Development Fund for Women, and for the Ford Foundation in Johannesburg, where she evaluated labor law programs. She earned her B.A. and LL.B from the University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, and her LL.M from Columbia University School of Law, New York.

She has published extensively on topics centered on gender and racial equality, South African legal issues, Australian legal issues, and international justice.

Dean Andrews will also be speaking to Professor Dayna Scott’s International Environmental Law class on Monday afternoon on the right to water in South African (constitutional) law.


Sexual Violence – against men & boys in Conflict Situations (Report from UN Workshop)

Catching up on all the things the profs send for posting – my colleague Sean Rehaag sent this UN Workshop Report from  December 2013 via the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict) to me some weeks ago, sorry for the delay.  Looks very interesting. 

Much important academic work has been done both to deconstruct gender stereotypes and biological essentialisms, and to theorize women’s rights. In the fields of international activism, policy and practice on conflict-related sexual violence, however, the discussion about gender has been blurred with and frequently subsumed into a necessary struggle for women’s rights in the face of historical indifference to the widespread  subordination of women. Notwithstanding the importance of this struggle, the resultant discursive and policy  focus on sexual and gender based violence as a women’s rights issue has become, from a policy and  humanitarian perspective, a serious obstacle to prevention of and response to conflict related sexual and  gender-based violence against men and boys, as practitioners lack both awareness of the issues, and the  appropriate experience and skills with which to respond to male survivors.  The predominance of this paradigm is evident in the fact that in most people’s minds, whether in rural villages  in eastern DRC or in the corridors of power in key donor states, the field of ‘gender’, and the sub-field within  that of SGBV, is understood to be about women. SGBV scenarios are populated by male perpetrators and  female victims. pp8-9

Full report here.  Includes Key resources starting at p 22.  Slides from the July 2013 workshop, here.

Exec Summary here.