Supporting the work of the Grandmothers Advocacy Network (GRAN), the Grassroot Grannies advocate through displays, speaking engagements, media, letter writing campaigns, and participating in organized advocacy events. We have signed petitions, spoken to our MPs and marched on Parliament Hill several times urging our federal government to keep their promises.
On this page of our website, we are now including the GRAN Updates on a bi-monthly basis.
GRAN Update - October 2018
Advocating for grandmothers, vulnerable children and youth in Sub-Saharan Africa
GRAN Leadership Team Face-to-Face Meetings
The Leadership Team had very successful meetings in Vancouver at the beginning of October. They met to discuss the future direction of GRAN based on the feedback and input received from the Hello Friends gathering in June.
It was agreed that the focus on older women should be the foundation of all work of GRAN. Under that overarching theme, advocacy focused around four human rights issues: The Right to Education and Life Long Learning; The Right to Health; The Right to Safety and Security; The Right to Economic Security and Social Protection. (This is not a new direction for GRAN but does represent a new way of framing GRAN's work, and believe it is a logical synthesis of current campaigns, the findings of the Older Women Count! report, and the outcome of discussions at Hello Friends.)
In addition, GRAN explored new ways to bring campaigns forward from the grassroots, while recognizing the strength and wisdom it has had in the present system of Working Groups. To pull this all together, the Leadership Team is working on a new draft Strategic Plan which is hoped to be ready for presentation to the GRAN Steering Committee for discussion by next month.
Access to Medicines Report – The TB Campaign
The postcard campaign was well supported by GRAN members. Approximately 620 postcards were sent to the Prime Minister’s office from 10 groups, based on information sent in to GRAN’s Gmail account. Also, several GRAN supporters met with their MPs over the summer, speaking about GRAN, the TB campaign, and the need for more focus on older women.
The Prime Minister has had much to deal with recently and GRAN was not really surprised when he was unable to attend the UN High Level Meeting on TB. However, as promised, the Minister of Indigenous Services, Jane Philpott and Natan Obed, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami attended.
Initial reports of the meeting are mixed. The political declaration sets targets to treat 40 million people with TB from 2018 to 2022 and includes commitments to advance research on drugs and diagnostics, to promote access and equitable delivery of these tools, and to mobilize sufficient and sustainable financing for action to end the TB epidemic. Click here to read more. Other reports on Twitter were less positive, stating that too much time was wasted discussing protection of pharmaceutical patents. It was also disappointing that only 15 Heads of State attended, none from Europe, and even the Head of State from India, the country most highly burdened by TB, was not in attendance. Canada did not commit to any increase in funding. More here.
The Access to Medicines Working Group will continue advocating for the elimination of TB, HIV and Malaria by holding our government to account concerning its pledge to the Global Fund. GRAN hopes to incorporate its concerns into the upcoming Orange Campaign. GRAN asks all GRAN supporters who use social media to tweet on these issues.
Ending Violence Against Women Report – The Orange Campaign
This year an exciting new action is being added: “Orange the House”. GRAN is asking supporters to visit their MP to explain the Campaign and encourage him/her to wear orange in the House of Commons on November 28, 2018. At the same time GRAN's Hill Team will be distributing a letter and an orange ribbon to all Members of Parliament with the same message. Remember to use the hashtags #Orangetheworld, ,#HearMeToo and #OlderWomenCount to spread our message far and wide!
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence are fast approaching! GRAN is beginning to hear from groups about their plans. Please make sure emails are sent to either Janet Siddall and/or Barb Howe with plans, posters and photos so that they can shared on GRAN’s website and Facebook page.
Northumberland GRANS Meet their MP
Some of the GRAN Northumberland group had a photo op recently with their MP. A local news reporter took photos to include with his article on the Orange Campaign, which will be published in their local paper in mid-November.
Education Working Group Report
Since Hello Friends, GRAN has been discussing ways to support the broader initiatives that were raised and how best to collaborate with other Working Groups on our issues, including:
- continuing GRAN's participation in the Canadian International Education Policy Working Group (CIEPWG) and support for the Global Partnership for Education replenishment in 2020;
- sharing the latest Reader’s Theatre by Phyllis Webster on the barriers faced by Older Women in SSA;
- advocating for the UN Convention on the Rights of the Older Persons; (Note: A letter GRAN signed, in support of this UN Convention, was sent to the Canadian government. They responded positively to this letter, saying it was open to discussing this possible convention.)
- following the Open-Ended Working Group for Ageing that meets yearly in New York; the meeting in July 2019 will include themes of lifelong learning and social protection for older persons.
- discussing the intersection of the education of boys and men (both formal and non-formal) and the relationship to ending violence against women and children; and
- brainstorming ways to become involved with the Bigger than our Borders Campaign through the promotion of lifelong learning, possibly advocating for Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) funds to go to smaller community-based groups led by older women.
GRAN is encouraged that girls’ education is “moving on up” on the agenda at the United Nations General Assembly. This September saw three high level meetings devoted to education. Our Prime Minister co-hosted one on, “Breaking the Barriers to Girls Education” and Minister Bibeau was a panelist on the “Action for Refugee Children” meeting.
The Hill Team
At the September meeting, chaired by Hilary Elliott, GRAN discussed possible meetings with parliamentarians as follow-up to the Hello Friends Hill Event – specifically with parliamentary groups like the All-Party Women's Caucus and the Global Health Caucus, and with individuals such as Filomena Tassi, the new Minister of Seniors, and Senator Andreychuk, Co-Chair of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association – as well as a potential connection to the International Development Research Centre, thanks to Phyllis Webster. We also discussed ways in which we could help "Orange the House".
One of the most effective ways to influence policy change is a face-to-face meeting with a member of parliament? On the October GRAN Steering Committee call, Valerie Wright and Hilary Elliott did a short training session on, “Engaging Your MP”.
They developed an excellent resource for sharing with groups, which provides a step-by-step guide for meeting with an MP. It’s available here.
GRAN’s good friends, May Chazan and Melissa Baldwin, along with Pat Evans, will launch their new book, Unsettling Activisms: Critical Interventions on Aging, Gender, and Social Change, in Peterborough, Ontario on October 27th. Here is an early review: “…The brilliant exploration of activism and aging, in many contexts and at many points in the life cycle, provides hope and inspiration for those of us who continue to struggle on the ground, at the front lines, or in the trenches. As mother and grandmother activists we feel this volume is a must read!” (Jeannette Corbiere-Lavell, Wikwemikong First Nation, activist and Member of the Order of Canada, and Dawn Lavell-Harvard, Wikwemikong First Nation, Director of the First Peoples House of Learning, Trent University.) Congratulations May, Pat and Melissa on what sounds like an inspiring book! See more about the launch here. Aeroplan Campaign 2018:Our goal? 125,000 Miles!
As a 100% volunteer organization, GRAN is grateful to be a part of Aeroplan's member donation program to help cover travel needs. Just in this past year alone, Aeroplan miles have made possible 8 return airfares for GRAN Leadership Team face-to-face meetings, 2 return airfares to enable far-flung GRAN members to attend the 2018 Hello Friends conference in Ottawa, and a one-night hotel stay for our Hello Friends keynote speaker, Samantha Nutt of War Child Canada.
Without the generous donations of Aeroplan miles each year by GRAN members and friends, these opportunities for face-to-face meetings would not be possible. In the month of November, readers are encouraged to donate miles if possible, and to spread the word about the Aeroplan campaign far and wide among contacts. Consider making an appeal in a community group. It’s an opportunity to talk about the work of GRAN among friends and colleagues while also inviting their support. (Just so you know, all miles donated are topped up by Aeroplan, so any gift of miles that is given, large or small, immediately grows by 10%.)
Friends and Allies
GRAN continues to build relationships with like-minded organizations. Recently, it joined the Global Alliance for the Rights of Older People (GAROP) and HelpAge Canada. For a complete list of GRAN's friends and allies, click here.
Actions for October/November:
- If you sent postcards to the PM for the TB Campaign, make sure your actions are counted!
- Let Janet Siddall and Barb Howe know about your plans for the Orange Campaign.
- Donate Aeroplan miles for our November campaign. Click here and help us reach our goal of 125,000 miles.
Look for the “Aeroplan Campaign” tab coming later this month to the GRAN website. Folks will be able to donate miles on line and GRANwill also provide a letter template that can be used to invite family and friends to join in donating Aeroplan miles throughout the month of November.