Isabella Bakker, York University
Over the last few decades, Canada has been a signatory to a number of United Nations commitments to women’s equality and more inclusive economic development, such as theInternational Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action (BPA), and more recently, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The signatory countries, including Canada, made commitments to integrate the stated goals of these international agreements into their policy plans. This included mobilizing resources to realize these commitments as well as the monitoring of progress toward these goals on the basis of the documented links between women’s equality and broader economic and social progress.
Despite these stated commitments in both international obligations as well as within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, there remain significant gender inequalities in the life experiences and distribution of opportunities among women and men, and between women, in Canada. For example, in 2007 the average earnings of women working full-time, full year were 71.4 percent of those of men; women accounted for 60 percent of all minimum wage earners in Canada in 2008; even after transfers and tax credits, 24 percent of Canadian single parent women were poor as were 19 percent of unattached senior women (compared to 14.7 percent of men); only 39 percent of unemployed women received EI benefits compared to 45 percent of men; and, regulated child care spaces existed for 18.6 percent of children 0 to 12 in Canada in 2008.
While women in all social groups face inequalities compared to men, there are also significant differences among women. The erosion of social rights is particularly pronounced among racialized women (29 percent live in poverty), aboriginal women (36 percent live in poverty) and women with disabilities (26 percent live in poverty).
Isabella C. Bakker, FRSC, is a professor of political science at York University and a Trudeau Fellow.
This is published in the Fedcan “Equity Matters” blog. Continue reading at: Connecting the canadian women’s human rights legacy to budgets « Fedcan Blog.