n Acta Juridica - Denial of the means of subsistence as an equality violation
|Article Title||Denial of the means of subsistence as an equality violation|
|© Publisher:||Juta Law Publishing|
|Author||Gwen Brodsky and Sheila Day|
|Publication Date||Jan 2005|
|Pages||149 - 170|
Poverty is an urgent equality issue for women all over the world. Canada, since the Depression of the 1930s, has had a history of good social programmes. And those programmes have been a central egalitarian force in women's lives. Public health care, childcare, affordable public education, unemployment insurance and social assistance have all provided ways of ameliorating women's inequality, shifting some of the burden of unpaid care-giving to the state, and making available more opportunities for women to engage in paid work, education and community life. Income security programmes, like employment insurance and social assistance have also softened women's dependence on men, ensuring that women have independent income at crucial times in their lives.
But this has changed in Canada. For some time now we have been experiencing restructuring 'Canadian-style', including a race to the bottom among provincial governments to eliminate the entitlement to social assistance, narrow eligibility rules and reduced welfare benefits. In recent years, successive governments have hacked away at the social safety net. The cuts to social programmes have hurt women.
The picture of women's poverty and overall economic inequality is shocking in a country as wealthy as Canada. Women have moved into the paid labour force in ever-increasing numbers over the last two decades, but they do not enjoy equality there, not in earnings, in access to non-traditional jobs and managerial positions, or in benefits. The gap between men's and women's full-time, full-year wages is due in part to occupational segregation in the workforce, which remains entrenched, and to the lower pay that is accorded to traditionally female jobs. Although the wage gap has decreased in recent years, with women who are employed on a full-time, full-year basis now earning about 72 per cent of comparable men, part of the narrowing of this gap is due to a decline in men's earnings, and not to an increase in women's.
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