- The Washington Times - Friday, April 28, 2000

A woman's place

Hedy Fry knows that a woman's place is in the House, the Senate, the corporate boardroom or anywhere else her ability can take her. The trouble is getting there.
As Canada's minister for women and multicultural affairs, the physician-politician is on a worldwide crusade to eliminate barriers to female advancement.
She cites Canada as an example of a country that promotes women in all aspects of life, even to the extent of applying "gender analysis" to every action the government takes to determine the effect on men and women.
Her own seat at the Cabinet table of Prime Minister Jean Chretien is proof that Canada takes women's rights seriously, she said in an interview this week in Washington, where she is attending a women's conference at the Organization of American States.
"Unless you have a Cabinet-level position, you tend to ghettoize women's issues. The attitude is: 'Let's do something nice for women.' You get a little pat on the head," Dr. Fry said.
She said she has learned to talk like an economist when she advances women's issues and to compare Canada's population, which is 50.5 percent female, to a corporation.
"Given that one sees one's country as a corporation, a competitive unit, we know of no corporation that develops only part of its work force," Dr. Fry said. "We have always believed in Canada that economic and social issues are not separate."
All Canadian government departments apply a "gender analysis" to any regulation or legislation they propose. Such analysis persuaded the navy to include separate female quarters on submarines. It also prompted drug regulators to study the effect new medicine has on men and women before allowing it on the market, Dr. Fry said.
In addition, Canada has adopted a pay-equity system, even though it was like "the traditional comparing of apples to oranges," she said.
Canada allows political refugees to claim sexual discrimination as a ground for asylum, she said.
Dr. Fry hopes Canada's accomplishments will set an example at the OAS conference, which includes representatives from many male-dominated Latin American countries.
Dr. Fry, who returned Sunday from a women's conference in India, visits dozens of developing countries where women are still second-class citizens.
"Women are seen as chattel in some parts of the world," she said. "We haven't come such a long way, baby."

Kerr in Libya

Sir John Kerr, Britain's former ambassador to the United States, took on a tough diplomatic task this week when he visited Libya to discuss ways to improve relations with Col. Moammar Gadhafi's government.
Col. Gadhafi, once denounced as a sponsor of state terrorism, is now a statesman in the eyes of some in Britain, which re-established relations with the North African country in 1999 after a 16-year break.
Mr. Kerr, ambassador here from 1995 to 1997, held talks with Libyan Foreign Minister Abdel Rahman Shalgham on his 24-hour visit, which ended Wednesday.
Mr. Kerr, now the permanent undersecretary at the Foreign Office, told Libyan television that his trip was "successful, constructive and important."
He talked with Mr. Shalgham about ways of "relaunching bilateral cooperation across the board, along with regional and international issues," a Libyan official told the Agence France-Presse news service.
The two countries have decided to have regular two-way visits, the official added.
Britain re-established relations after Col. Gadhafi agreed to turn over to Libyans suspected of the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am plane over Scotland that killed 270 persons.
Libya also apologized for the 1984 death of British policewoman Yvonne Fletcher, who was killed by shots fired from inside the Libyan Embassy in London during a demonstration outside.

Hungarian seminar

The Hungarian Embassy is organizing a seminar, "Hungary and the fall of communist dominoes," to be held next week on Capitol Hill.
The function will begin at 3 p.m. Tuesday in Room 562 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. The Hungarian-American Council is a co-sponsor of the forum.

To contact Embassy Row, call 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail ([email protected]).

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