On March 8, do something special for all of the women and girls in your life. Make sure the issues affecting 52 percent of Canadians are up for debate.
By Doreen Nicoll
Published February 27, 2015
March 8, 2015 is International Women's Day! The United Nations theme is Empowering Women - Empowering Humanity: Picture It!
Here's what that would look like for Canadian women and girls.
According to the website Justice for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Indigenous women are five times more likely to die as a result of violence. It's time for an enquiry into our murdered and missing Aboriginal women. Recommendations from the enquiry must be implemented in a timely manner.
In 2009/10, the Canadian Network of Women's Shelters and Transition Houses reported that 103,000 women and children were admitted to shelters across the country. Every day over 8,200 women and children live in shelters to escape domestic violence.
Many have no choice but to return to their abusers. Canadians need more second stage housing, micro loans for furnishings, full time jobs with benefits, and affordable child care now.
In 1987, the Pay Equity Act was implemented in Canada and the gendered wage gap was 36 percent. By 2010, the Conference Board of Canada reported the gap had shrunk to 19 percent. Canadians can't wait another 23 years to end this gendered discrimination.
Fields dominated by women including child care and personal support work are notorious for undervaluing employees. Historically, there has been less unionization in female sectors. Outright discrimination in hiring, promotion and compensation practices disenfranchise women.
Women take time away from work because of family care-giving responsibilities and experience losses of seniority, advancement and wages. Women often settle for part-time and precarious positions with no benefits.
These economic losses are permanent and contribute to the higher rate of poverty among older women noted by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development in its 2013 report. This gendered inequality needs to be remedied.
The cost of child care is often the reason women don't return to work after having children. In 2014, Statistics Canada found that fulltime child care for children age four and younger was lowest in Quebec with a median cost of $152 a month.
The province with the highest cost for full-time child care was Ontario, with a median cost of $677 a month. Affordable universal child care is needed now.
According to the Canadian Women's Foundation, more than one million single mothers in Canada are raising their children in poverty.
A multifaceted approach is required to help these families. Finding a full-time job with benefits is great, but the family may need affordable housing, food, affordable child care or bus tickets before the position can be accepted.
One easy way to empower Canadian women is to change the national anthem back to its original 1908 version: "True patriot love in all of us command." Encourage your Member of Parliament to vote YES to Bill C-624 in April 2015.
Canadians deserve an inclusive English National Anthem that "all of us" can sing proudly!
It's been 31 years since the leaders of the national parties held a debate devoted exclusively to women's issues. Before the fall election, Canadians deserve to know which parties are committed to creating a truly gender equal Canada.
The NDP and Green Party are up for the debate. Let's encourage the Liberals, Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois to join the discussion.
On March 8, do something special for all of the women and girls in your life. Make sure the issues affecting 52 percent of Canadians are #UpForDebate in the 2015 federal election campaign.
For more information or to send a letter to party leaders, visit www.upfordebate.ca.
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