In the Blog

Taking stock

September 16th, 2007     by Nicole Cohen     Comments

I was talking to a friend last night about The National Post’s “Women’s Issue.” Without seeing it, I jokingly asked if it centered on the latest handbag styles or how to be a good stay-at-home mom and he (who works at the Post) was mildly offended. Apparently the idea for the issue came about because, the editors figured, it’s never been a better time to be a woman. The issue’s headline reads “The new challenge is choice: women have more options than ever, but that doesn’t make them easier.” As a very wise feminist once told me, a choice isn’t much of a choice when the menu has limited offerings.

The table of contents of the women’s issue looks interesting, but I’m wondering why the paper didn’t tackle some of the biggest issues facing women in Canada at the moment: poverty, racism, violence against women, increasingly precarious working conditions, a lack of affordable housing, and the downloading of state services onto families (which means, generally, women pick up the slack, since as we all know child care, health care and domestic work is women’s work). Of course, from the Post’s vantage point, things look good: with Canada’s gap between rich and poor at a 30-year high, those on the top (the Post’s desired readership) are doing very well, leaving those on the bottom with very little.

While I agree that there are many things to celebrate about being women, and while we must be proud of all the struggles women around the world have endured for our benefit, I think it’s important to take stock of just some of the reasons why, in an advanced Capitalist country like Canada, it might not be a great time to be a woman.

  • Last year, the Harper government cut funding to Status Of Women Canada, canceled important programs, and, perhaps most insulting, took the word “equality” out of the Women’s Program and decided that women’s organizations cannot use federal funding to promote women’s equality in this country.

  • Single mothers are the most economically marginalized group of Canadians.

  • Despite increasing levels of education (women, on average, hold more degrees than men), women still earn 18 percent less than men, as women are streamed into lower-paid professions such as health and education. The gap is not narrowing.

  • Women, particularly immigrant women of colour, are increasingly working in part-time, temporary or casual jobs that are low-paid, insecure and come with a high risk of injury.

  • As we often discuss on this very blog, young women face increasing pressure to be thin and beautiful, driven by celebrity-obsessed media and entertainment industries.

  • Canadian women face a child care crisis, which the Harper government keeps deepening.

  • The current conservative climate has seeing the rise of a return to traditional gender roles.

  • Racism is rampant.

  • Sexism is rampant.

  • Sexual harassment and violence against women is a persistent and horrifying problem.

  • Canada has only 64 women in our federal government (20.7 percent), ranking us 48th in the world of countries with women politicians.

Tags: in my opinion...

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