(Quebec) The Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Martine Biron, refuses to recognize and name intersectionality, in addition to “closing herself up” when it comes time to talk about concrete measures for women.
This is the observation made by the Collectif 8 mars, which includes 17 regional consultation tables on the status of women. Its members came away disappointed from their one-hour meeting with Ms. Biron last Thursday.
In a press release, the collective regretted the “tone” of the minister, “not conducive to constructive exchanges to improve the living conditions of all women”.
On the contrary, the meeting was quite “constructive”, retorted the minister. Discussions focused in particular on the quality of public services, the right to housing and discrimination in the labor market.
“Meeting with the March 8 Collective was an opportunity for me to learn about their demands on many subjects,” said Ms. Biron in a written statement sent to La Presse Canadienne.
“We have a common goal: equality between men and women. It is by rallying all Quebec feminists that we will achieve this,” she added.
Regarding intersectionality, the collective says it perceived a “great unease” in the minister.
“(She) never named the word, lamented the collective’s co-spokesperson, Karine Drolet, in an interview. She says that women experience different situations, […], but does not name intersectionality. »
Intersectionality generally refers to the intersections between different systems of discrimination. Let us think of immigrant, aboriginal, senior, handicapped and/or poor women.
Québec solidaire (QS) pointed out in the House last week that the word intersectionality nevertheless appears in several official government documents.
This concept is an integral part, for example, of the 2022-2027 government strategy to counter sexual violence and domestic violence in Quebec.
“The intersections between different systems of discrimination place some women in contexts of heightened vulnerability to sexual violence and domestic violence,” the strategy reads.
Ms. Drolet draws a parallel with systemic racism, which the Legault government refuses to name.
“It is certain that to recognize it and to name it, it will in a way force the government to take actions which are in line with what it affirms”, she analyzes.
“We feel that there is a great unease from the minister, her response to (intersectionality). We feel that it does not necessarily just come from her, but it is an issue for the entire government and the Prime Minister. »
The concept of intersectionality sparked a debate at the end of February in the National Assembly.
QS had tabled a motion at the Blue Room encouraging “gender-based analysis from an intersectional perspective in order to defend the rights of all women in Quebec”.
The party obtained the support of the Liberal Party and the Parti Québécois, but not of the Coalition avenir Québec.
Ms. Drolet is still happy that we are talking about intersectionality; she promises that the collective will not “let go of the piece” and will continue “to hit the nail on the head”.
The collective also wants the Secretariat for the Status of Women, for which Ms. Biron is responsible, to become a ministry, which would give the minister more “weight” around the cabinet table.