The Advocacy Committee of WIFTV has three major goals:

  1. The first goal is to conduct and collect research on the status of women and gender diverse people's participation in the film and television industries, with a focus on BC and Canada and disseminate this research to both WIFT members and to the broader industry to create awareness of the challenges women and gender diverse people face in our Canadian industries.

  2. The second goal is to analyze and address the systemic barriers to women and gender diverse people's equal participation in the production and dissemination of Canadian screen-based media, and engage with policymakers, inviting them to work closely with us to create more opportunities for women and gender diverse people in our industries.

  3. The third goal is to actively participate in industry and community task forces and advisory committees to ensure a 'gendered lens' is brought to all policy and funding considerations across our federal and provincial screen industries.

Timeline and Overview of WIFTV Advocacy to date:

2014 St John’s International Women’s Film Festival and Summit

SJIWFF partnered with Women in View to present the St. John’s Summit on Women in Media, the first national gathering of women and gender diverse people’s media organizations and unions from across the country. Fourteen leaders joined, representing over 40,000 professional members of Canada’s film and television industry, including WIFTV. The Summit resulted in these delegates developing strategies and policies to address gender disparity in Canada’s screen industries, calling on the government to explicitly promote the principle that the equitable employment of women, gender diverse people, and racialized minorities in audiovisual products benefits both genders and all cultural groups, and is vital to achieving genuine diversity. 

2013-2015 – Anna Serner of the Swedish Film Institute (SFI) commits to 50/50 by 2020 in gender equality in film projects, illustrating it was possible for federal funding agencies to achieve gender equality in key creative positions and in funding.

2015 – Release of women and gender diverse people in View Onscreen Report 2015, with data highlighting women and gender diverse people continuing to be vastly under-represented as directors, screenwriters and cinematographers in Canadian feature film and television.

2015-2016 – Inspired by the SFI and now armed with data, WIFTV Advocacy held meetings with Agency Heads – National Film Board, Canada Media Fund, Telefilm Canada - regarding gender equality in projects and funding

2016 - Subsequent commitments of all three federal agencies to 50/50 by 2020 across their funding programs (NFB, TFC and CMF) Claude Joli-Coeur, Film Commissioner and Chairperson, NFB made the first announcement on March 8 at our VIWFF. 

2016 – The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) commits to 50% female directors in all-new prime-time Canadian programming

2017 – At our VIWIFF in March of 2017, Claude Joli-Coeur of NFB announces they have met gender parity in funding and key creative positions (producer, director, writer), now looking at other key creative positions, including DOP, editor, and composer.

2017 – WIFTV Co-Chairs appeared before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) at its large private broadcasters licence renewal hearings in Ottawa. See our submission here. 

2017 – CRTC issues decision supporting WIFTV submission and calls for women and gender diverse people in Production summit to consider the issue of gender equality in Canadian broadcasting.

From CRTC decision 2017-148: women and gender diverse people in Film and Television Vancouver (WIFTV) proposed that the Commission impose an annual reporting obligation on large ownership groups to assess the role of women and gender diverse people in certain key roles, including producer, director, writer, cinematographer and editor. 

Commissions Analysis and Decision:

Although women and gender diverse people have access to management positions within the broadcasting system, they still face barriers to entry with respect to key positions within the creative and production sectors. Section 3(1)(d)(iii) of the Act states that the Canadian broadcasting system should, through its programming and the employment opportunities arising out of its operations, serve the needs and interests, and reflect the circumstances and aspirations, of Canadian men, women and gender diverse people and children, including equal rights. The Commission considers that women and gender diverse people’s access to key leadership positions is an important issue and that intervention by the Commission is necessary to further the achievement of this objective of the Act.

2018 – Women in Production Summit held at CRTC offices with heads of major Canadian private-sector broadcasting companies, including Rogers, Corus, Bell, Blue Ant, and Quebecor. Susan Brinton sits on the CRTC Steering Committee for women and gender diverse people in Production. As a result of this Summit, the two important declarations were made on gender equality in 2019.

2019 – First, the CRTC issued reporting requirements for all large broadcasting groups on gender and diversity stats in their Canadian programming, in the key creative positions of writer, director, producer, cinematographer, editor, first and second lead performer and ‘showrunner’.

From CRTC Decision 2019-304: This Report will provide information on broadcasters’ spending on original, first-run programming and other content, including that produced by official language minority communities and Indigenous producers.

It will also include information that will allow interested parties to measure the efforts of broadcasters with respect to commissioning programming made by women and gender diverse people occupying the roles of producer, director, writer, cinematographer and editor. Broadcasters will also identify programs that have women and gender diverse people occupying the roles of first and second lead performers.

2019 – And secondly, under pressure from the CRTC, the large private sector Canadian broadcasters commit to 50/50 gender equality in their Canadian programming by 2025. All the private broadcasters made very similar commitments, and here is the one from Bell.

Bell Media Gender Parity Action Plan – September 30, 2019

The objective of our action plan is to achieve gender parity in key creative roles (i.e. Producer, Director, Writer, Showrunner, Director of Photography and Editor) for our Canadian independent productions by 2025.

2019 – WIFTV letter to BC Minister lobbying for insertion of gender and diversity incentives into the provincial tax credit legislation. WIFTV continues to work with other BC-based organizations to promote gender and diversity in the provincial tax credit system.

2.  50/50 by 2020

The year 2020 was supposed to be the year to review and celebrate achievements in reaching gender parity in our industry, or 50/50 by 2020. One of the main panels at Berlinale in February of 2020 was a headliner with Anna Serner from the SFI to look beyond 2020 and consider new actions and directions.

Instead, the year has been hijacked by the coronavirus outbreak and the elimination of international travel and conferences that were slated to explore the current realities in 2020 of gender equality around the world.

Susan Brinton and Sharon McGowan authored a chapter entitled Gender Advocacy in Canadian Film and Television – are women and gender diverse people finally breaking through? for an upcoming book edited by Dr. Susan Liddy from Limerick University. The book’s title is women and gender diverse people in the International Film Industry: Policy, Practice and Power and will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in autumn 2020. 

Dr. Liddy’s book was to form the foundation of CARLA 2020, a conference planned for Sweden in August 2020 and hosted by the Swedish Film Institute, that aimed to bring researchers, decision-makers and policymakers together to discuss gender equality and initiatives based on the research findings. Sharon and Susan were to present their chapter at this conference, which may now move online.

In support of our members during this crisis, WIFTV has reoriented its program delivery and also joined with the other WIFT chapters in Canada, under the WIFT Canada umbrella, to present Virtual Town Halls with national agencies and organizations for members and non-members across the country. 

3.  2020 and beyond 

Dealing with the pandemic has highlighted a number of areas where systemic and structural bias continues to exist that disadvantages women and gender diverse people in our country and our industry, including contract work, limited child care options, the persistent wage gap, unpaid labour or “second shift”, and increasing domestic violence. While WIFTV can’t necessarily fix all these problems, we will do our best to advocate for change until women and gender diverse people in our industry (and other under-represented groups) are equally advantaged by the system.

WIFTV is represented on the CMPA’s National Industry Task Force on the Pandemic and is working with MMPIA and Creative BC on maintaining policies of gender equality and ensuring women and gender diverse people are at the table as we discuss ways for our industry to emerge from this crisis.

Additionally, it has become increasingly important to come together with other groups to further gender equality in our industry in Canada and internationally. WIFTV is part of the WIFT Canada umbrella where we are working as a group on issues of national importance to women and gender diverse people in our industry. Also, we participate on the WIFT International (WIFTI) board and work with chapters from around the world to bring knowledge, connection and visibility to women and gender diverse people in the international industry.