The Pictou Statement: Feminist Statement On Guaranteed Living Income

women having a discussion

by Lee Lakeman, Angela Miles and Linda Christiansen–Ruffman 

For millennia women’s work, along with the free gifts of nature, has provided most of the true wealth of our communities. Women’s work has been central to individual and collective survival. In all our diverse communities women can be seen to work on the principle that everybody is entitled to economic and physical security and autonomy and a fair share of the common wealth.

Women in every community, context and racial group are still denied our rightful political power over the economics governing these communities and our world. To paraphrase “A Women’s Creed,” for thousands of years men have had power without responsibility while women have responsibility without power. This situation must change.

Feminists insist that all activities of government and business in our nation(s) and our diverse communities should be assessed in the light of the prime value of sustaining life and social priorities of universal entitlement, human security, autonomy and common wealth. Social priorities of universal entitlement, human security, autonomy and common wealth must become central in social life and in public policy.

We refuse to accept market measures of wealth. They make invisible the important caring work of women in every society. They ignore the well-being of people and the planet, deny the value of women’s work, and define the collective wealth of our social programs and public institutions as “costs” which cannot be borne. They undermine social connections and capacities (social currency).

We reject policies that sacrifice collective wealth and individual security in the interests of profit for transnational corporations.

Women in Canada expect full and generous provision for all people’s basic needs from the common wealth. Social and collective provision for sustaining life must be generous and secure in Canada and must be delivered through national mechanisms appropriately influenced and controlled by the women of our many specific communities.

We expect all people’s full and dignified participation in society including full individual and social sharing of the work and responsibility of sustaining life that has so far been gendered. Men must share equally in this work within and beyond monetary measures.

We expect our rightful share of the wealth we have created. Women’s work must be recognized and valued both within and beyond monetary measures. We expect sustained and expanding collective provision for people’s needs.

Women demand an indexed guaranteed living income for all individual residents set at a level to enable comfortable living.

Excerpts from the preamble to the Pictou Statement:

“Women’s places in the academy, centres, projects and wings of the movement as well as women’s livelihood, dignity and autonomy are financially threatened in new ways. To write and to think creatively with political ingenuity and wisdom is difficult but essential in these circumstances.”

“The editorial board responded to the challenge. … two members of the Canadian Woman Studies executive board and two members of the guest editorial board for this issue were able to meet in Pictou, Nova Scotia with feminists from across the country for two days of intense dialogue around the themes of this issue. The mix of significant numbers of national groups with a substantial regional grassroots presence proved inspired.” (list of participants published on pg.206 of the journal)

“… dialogue as a whole group… contributed to the articulation of a feminist position on a guaranteed livable income. This is captured in the ‘Pictou Statement’ presented here. This statement has not been endorsed by individual participants at Pictou and they have not yet had the time to take it to their respective groups for endorsement. However, it is an exciting outcome of a rare and generative feminist dialogue. We feel it represents an important advance in feminist thinking on these issues and are pleased to be able to present it here.”

The Pictou Statement was published in the Canadian Woman Studies Journal, Volume 23, No. 3 & 4, December 2004. Issue Theme: Benefiting Women? Women’s Labour Rights. Reprinted with permission from the Canadian Woman Studies Journal.

This statement has been endorsed by: