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Social Justice can be defined as having equal access to wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society (Pachamama Alliance). Within Canada, many minority groups experience unequal opportunities or the same rights and privileges than other people in society. Peculiarly, many women around the world – even women in Canada – face discrimination surrounding their gender. Over the past two centuries, women had endured the counteractive injustice of being a woman in the workforce. The inequity forced women to stand up for fairness, such as what occupations they can pursue, gendered pay gaps, the lack of support for pregnancy/childcare, as well as harassment in the workplace. In 2016, Canada was ranked as having the 8th highest gender pay gap out of a list of 43 countries based on data found by OECD (“Gender Wage Gap | Canadian Women’s Foundation | Gender Equality Advocates”) by comparing the annual earnings, by gender, for both full-time and part-time workers. On average, female workers in Canada earned 69 cents for every dollar earned by males in 2016 (Moyser). This data displays the most significant wage gap because more women work part-time than men since part-time workers earn less than if working a full-time job and family responsibilities.
Timeline of Women within the Workforce
The 1870s: North American women helped volunteer with building parks and improve public health – the birth of feminist movements. (“Women In Canada – History Timeline – UFCW Canada – Canada’s Private Sector Union”)
1901: Women in Canada’s workforce were contributing mainly as domestic labourers, dressmakers or teachers. 15% of women aged 14 years and older were apart of Canada’s workforce. (“Women In Canada – History Timeline – UFCW Canada – Canada’s Private Sector Union”)
Striking Women – Bell Telephone
➢ Women go on strike in Toronto to protest against excessive hours on the job in Bell Telephone. (“Women In Canada – History Timeline – UFCW Canada – Canada’s Private Sector Union”)
Valleyfield Textile Strike, Quebec
➢ Female workers demanded shorter work hours, a living wage, and stop abusive treatment by shop supervisors. The strike failed, however, their confrontational methods led to improvements in the industry. (“Women In Canada – History Timeline – UFCW Canada – Canada’s Private Sector Union”)
1914 – 1918 (World War I): Women worked “men’s” jobs as men went off to fight in WW1. (“Women In Canada – History Timeline – UFCW Canada – Canada’s Private Sector Union”)
Significance: It was significant that women during the war, worked in munitions factories as men went off to fight in the First World War because of the unusual switch for women occupying a man’s job. As well, there was an increase in women working within the economy during this time, especially in posts that were seen as being reserved for men. However, not every woman had equal access to work. Discrimination was still very apparent against women; employers preferred single women over mothers and wives. Overall, women had a glimpse into how it would be like working in a man’s job, and this period sparked the idea that women can accomplish more than as domestic labourers. (“Women In Canada – History Timeline – UFCW Canada – Canada’s Private Sector Union”)
1920s-30s: Women’s Labour League
➢ The league emerged in Canada around WWI. The purpose of the Women’s Labour League was to defend women workers and support the labour movement. The group advocated for equal pay, maternity care, and birth control for all women wanting to work. They also exposed the limited amount of minimum wage laws. (Sangster)
1937: Léa Roback
➢ Roback was a union organizer for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. She led a strike of 5,000 workers in Montréal for improvement in wages and working conditions for women in Canada, securing the first union contract for over 4,000 workers at an RCA Victor munitions plant – close to half of which were female workers. (Rioux, and Lambert)
1939 – 1945 World War II: Women become more involved in the war than ever before. They received more opportunities, such as army services. (“Women In Canada – History Timeline – UFCW Canada – Canada’s Private Sector Union”)
The contrast between WW1 & WW2:
➢ WW1 – Only single women were hired
➢ WW2 – Higher demands for production of war artilleries, childless married women and women with children were employed as well
Significance: Women’s labour was needed once again for production for war-time artilleries within factories, shipyards, and ammunition plants. Contrastingly, women were more involved in the second world war, as they were able to volunteer as nurses and support for army services – a women’s work was not only done in the factory anymore. Moreover, women challenged the stereotypes of women not being able to do “men’s work” and also be able to contribute outside of their homes. (“Women In Canada – History Timeline – UFCW Canada – Canada’s Private Sector Union”)
1960 – 1985: Second Wave Feminism
➢ Start of the women’s liberation movement. Women demanded equal wages, exclusion of sexual harassment, equal job opportunities, and the elimination of sexual exploitation from pornography. The wave challenged society’s beliefs about a women’s role in the workforce. (“Women In Canada – History Timeline – UFCW Canada – Canada’s Private Sector Union”) (Gomes)
1970: Feminist activists campaigned for educational changes for elementary schools up to universities, gendered pay gap, the lack of support for pregnancy/childcare, the abolishment of glass ceilings and harassment. (Strong-Boag)
Significance: Girls and women faced obstacles in job training and education; household labour remained a women’s responsibility. The majority of women were directed to service sectors, healthcare and teaching. Female activists stepped in and towards educational reforms in elementary schools to universities. As well, Feminists condemned for the gendered pay gap, the lack of support for pregnancy/childcare, the abolishment of glass ceilings and harassment in the workplace. (Strong-Boag) These contributing factors increased the employment rate of women in Ontario from over 51% in 1976 to 68% in 2012. (“Statistics: Women And Work”)
1981: Women were concerned about women’s rights being excluded from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Over 1000 women meet and lobby Members of Parliament
Were successful in getting women’s rights included in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
(“Women In Canada – History Timeline – UFCW Canada – Canada’s Private Sector Union”)
2018: Ontario Equal Pay Coalition and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) analyzes 2016 census data. The report found that women workers earn $15,900 less on average per year than male workers, which revealed a severe gender wage gap in Canada. (“Women In Canada – History Timeline – UFCW Canada – Canada’s Private Sector Union”)
Cause and Consequence
Negative Mind Set: Many women are discriminated in Canada, to such an extent that they start to believe that they are best suited for jobs such as nurturing, housekeeping and service provision (“Gender Inequality And Its Causes – Women Unlimited”). On the other hand, men are seen as the ones tailored for careers involving a significant level of authority and decision making. As men are seen as the more towering figures in the workforce, most people – even women themselves – gravitate towards the belief that women cannot rule big organizations or also have higher ranking occupations.
Societal Beliefs: Factors such as stereotypes, prejudice and racism motivate a person or society to discriminate. Women are constrained to unequal treatment in all domains of life, in both more and less advanced countries. Women are not treated in a satisfactory manner for efforts and contributions within the workplace; they are frequently neglected when it comes to promotions. The glass ceiling effect was a metaphor coined by feminists. It depicts how there is an invisible barrier blocking numerous women to reach higher levels in almost any career field (“Definition Of GLASS CEILING”). As well, the effect is more prevalent in Asain countries, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India (Rukhshanda et al.). These countries create obstacles for women to be promoted to higher levels of authority or be considered worthy of education. As of 2018, Canada ranked as the 50th country in more than 100 countries in waging equality. Additionally, the global gender gap in Canada widened in 2017 for the first time in a decade; it will take 108 years to fully close the gender gap over politics, work, health and education (Jodoin). Furthermore, it will take 202 years to close the workplace gender gap in Canada (Jodoin).
Expensive childcare: Expensive childcare is a major obstacle women have to endure if they want to grow their family. In Canada, childcare is extremely costly. For instance, paying childcare for two children under the age of 3 in Toronto would cost $2,850 per month or more than $34,000 a year (Munday). Not only do women have to pay for the expensive day-care fees, but they also have to worry about mortgage payments and paying a car. The burden of childcare fees, nannies, and limited spaces are keeping parents out of the workforce, in poverty or even prevent them from saving money for the future (Paperny).
Low Wages: Women in Canada are making less money than men for the same work and career. It would take a woman to work extra three-and-a-half months per year to reach the same payment amount men do in only 12 months (“The Gender Pay Gap Costs Canadian Women Almost $16,000 A Year”). According to the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), women’s salary in Ontario is astonishing 23% lower than men (Cornish). The annual salary for a male in Ontario is of $51,900 in 2016, yet a female’s yearly salary is $36,000, resulting in a shocking difference of $15,900 per year (“Distribution Of Employment Income Of Individuals By Sex And Work Activity, Canada, Provinces And Selected Census Metropolitan Areas”).
Fewer Career Opportunities: Women in Canada are experiencing a massive concern for how far they can reach in their careers. A few examples of this issue in Canada is the fact that fewer women were leading Canada’s corporations in 2018 than in six years ago, as well as the problem in B.C., where fewer women in the tech industry are being employed than the Canadian average. None of Canada’s Toronto Stock Exchange top 60 companies are lead by women, top-earning women are paid less than males, and the number of high management roles such as chief executive officer and chief financial officer has alarmingly decreased compared to 2013 (Ligaya, and Deschamps). In 2012, there was one CEO and eight CFOs, whereas, in 2018, there were only three women as CFOs in the TSE top sixty (Ligaya, and Deschamps). On the other hand, women in British Columbia are encountering a lesser chance of employment in the tech industry. The Women in Tech World and the Discovery Foundation performed a study on gender equality and female presence on the B.C tech industry. The foundation had found that women are underrepresented continuously in the technology field; women make up 15-20% of the STEM workforce within B.C – Canada’s average is 25%(Wilson).
Physical Abuse: Three-in-ten Canadians experience sexual harassment at work according to a 2014 study conducted by The Angus Reid Institute (ARI). Sexualized dress codes are one representative of a spectrum of sex discrimination that women in the workplace face. Also, not only do working women face sexualized dress codes, sexual harassment is another specific form of sex discrimination that is active within the workplace. The 2014 study’s results show that both male and female Canadians had experienced cases of harassment at work, women, however, are almost four times more likely to be harassed than men (“Three-In-Ten Canadians Have Experienced Sexual Harassment At Work | Angus Reid Institute”). Unfortunately, several Canadians choose to not report incidents of sexual harassment and unwanted contact in the workplace. Most victims of any sexual harassment explain that the issue can be handled by themselves, felt that the problem was too minor, afraid to lose/hurt their career, or even thought that no one would believe them (“Three-In-Ten Canadians Have Experienced Sexual Harassment At Work | Angus Reid Institute”). These reasons are a significant concern for women working towards their profession, as it can create a traumatic scar in their life, have difficulties on receiving a new job, or even lead women to consider in making money from sexual activities.
Continuity and Change
Continuity and Change:
Quote 1 (For Feminism):
Quote 2 (Against Feminism): “Feminism, which is supposedly for everybody, apparently has no place for conservative women. Why would feminists need to exclude entire swaths of the population? Because they know their ideology cannot stand up to challenges, they know they themselves do not understand it, and they know that to accomplish their goals they cannot allow discussion to occur…To pretend that your ideology is impenetrable and the obvious answer to modern social problems and then to turn around and exclude people from the discussion only creates more holes in the theories themselves and serves to demonstrate the liberal superiority complex.”
― Chris Sardegna
“Shouldn’t we respect that fewer women want to go into some areas of study than other areas of study?”
― Chris Sardegna
“Society doesn’t owe us anything. I don’t need someone to pay for my female hygiene products to feel empowered. Can we work? Yes. Can we vote? Yes. Do we have the same rights and opportunities as men? Yes. What rights are they [feminists] fighting for? What are they specifically? What don’t they have?”
― Hannah Bleau
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