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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Reality check 

Alison has an important post about the Conservative government's funding cut-offs to Status of Women groups.
The argument, apparently, is that women don't need these groups anymore:
At the time of the budget cuts, Gwen Landolt of REAL Women, the traditional-values group which has spent the last 25 years fighting against equal rights for women, explained that groups (like SWAG) are no longer needed because "women are equal now".
Hmmm -- so everything's peachy, eh?
Let's just check out this claim. And here are the facts, from the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women:
There are 2.8 million women in Canada living in poverty. That's one in five women. Fifty-six percent of the poor in Canada are women. (1) . . . To be poor in Canada means to be surrounded by wealth but have no access to it. It means having to choose between paying your rent, bills, groceries, transportation, doing your laundry and buying necessary medical supplies. It means not having the money for many things other Canadians take for granted: visiting relatives, buying clothes to apply for jobs in, giving birthday or Christmas gifts to your kids. It means living in inadequate housing - often in disrepair and in overcrowded, high-crime neighbourhoods. It means that even five bucks is a big deal. It doesn't necessarily mean being on social assistance. The majority of the poor work for wages, either full- or part-time. (2). . .
And here's a "reality check" on Canadian women's equalityl:
* At every level of education, women in Canada earn less on average than men. For example, in 2003, women who are high school graduates earned 71.0 % of what male high school graduates earned for full-time, full-year work. Women with post-secondary degrees earned 68.9% of what their male counterparts did for full-time, full-year work. Postsecondary education does nothing at all to narrow the wage gap between women and men.
. . .
* In terms of the ratio of male to female earned income (the wage gap), Canada ranks 38th in the world. The following countries are among the many with less of a wage gap between women and men than Canada: Switzerland, Cambodia, Kenya, the Czech Republic and over 30 others.
* Canada ranks 25th in the world in terms of the representation of women in professional and technical occupations, after the United States, Barbados, Lithuania, Argentina and many other countries.
. . .
* Since the cutbacks of the 1990s, fewer women than men qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits. . . . Women form the large majority of part-time workers in Canada, accounting for more than a quarter of the female paid labour force. Although they are forced to pay into EI, they find it difficult to qualify for EI maternity and parental leave, as well as sick and unemployment benefits. The majority of minimum wage workers in Canada are women. They find it hard to live on 55% of their salaries, which is what EI offers, when even their full salaries for a full year of work still places them below the Low-Income Cut-Offs (“poverty line”). They are also forced to pay into EI while not being able to afford to take much leave, thus subsidizing the leaves of better-off workers.
. . .
* Do women make “choices” to be economically disadvantaged, particularly by having children? If every woman decided not to have children, the human race would be wiped out in one generation. We need to recognize the value of women’s paid and unpaid work, as some other countries have done through concrete policy supports for women’s economic equality.
. . .
# It is no coincidence that the majority of social assistance recipients are women and children. In Canada half a million children with poor mothers are growing up on inadequate amounts of social assistance that do not cover basic needs. Canada has one of the highest rates of child poverty because we have less supports for women than many industrialized countries. The proportion of lone parent mothers living in poverty in Canada is a social policy choice, not an individual one.
. . .
# Child care is not a “hand out”. It is estimated that the mothers of young children contribute $53 billion of Canada’s GDP, representing 5% of the total GDP. That is taking into account the monetary value of their paid work, not the even greater value of their unpaid work as mothers of the next generation of Canadians.
For more, see the Women and The Economy website and links.

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