Women’s Committee are Packing Purses

dsc_0347-2The Women’s Rights Committee of the Kamloops and District Labour Council marked the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women by filling gently used purses with basic necessities for women fleeing violence. Donations poured in from affiliates and community groups and included scarves, gloves, hair brushes, make up, soap, shampoo, perfume, feminine hygiene products and more.

“We were expecting to put together 50 purses but with the overwhelming inpouring of donations, we ended up with around 140,” says Barb Nederpel, President of the labour council. The purses were happily received by the Kamloops Y Women’s Shelter.

Nederpel says that this is a small gesture to help out the shelter and the women who depend on it. “Violence against women is an increasing concern and this government isn’t doing enough to provide the services and supports that women and families need. What does exist, does not meet demand, and services are often funded year-to-year, with no long term commitment from the B.C. government.”

Nederpel, also the candidate for the Kamloops North Thompson NDP, reflected on her own personal history facing and fleeing intimate partner abuse.

“I was trapped in this relationship as a teenager through young adulthood. Every single day was a struggle to exist and I made wrong choices as a result. I imploded my career, I couldn’t afford to leave, even if I had somewhere to go or family to lean on, and I had a young baby I needed to protect,” says Nederpel. “It was only through social programs that existed at that time that I was finally able make my way out.”

Nederpel laments that it shouldn’t have to be as arduous or dangerous as it is for women to leave.

Last spring, NDP MLA, Maurine Karigianis introduced a private members bill to protect the job security of victims of domestic violence. The Employment Standards Domestic Violence Leave Amendment Act would guarantee that those fleeing domestic violence have the ability to take a leave of absence from work, giving them the time that they need to move their family to safety.

“The Christy Clark government refused to support it. I was very disappointed because I know how dramatically that legislation could have altered my life.”

In March 2016, the Province of Manitoba amended their employment standards to afford workers who are victims of domestic violence with eligibility for five days of paid, protected employment leave. Ontario is looking at a private members bill that would grant 10 days.

Poverty disproportionately impacts women and children and BC has the worst child poverty in the country. “Poverty traps women in dangerous relationships and yet, BC is the only province without a poverty reduction plan. Raising the minimum wage and providing affordable childcare would go a long way to give women the opportunity to stand on her own two feet and live independently,” says Nederpel.

“We really need to do more to address violence against women in our province with stronger education and awareness, prevention and community support initiatives.”

The Kamloops Shoe Memorial commemorating the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women will be held December 6th, at St. Andrew’s on the Square. Speakers will begin at 12:15 and will include Barb Nederpel.

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