What are the causes of women's
Although women make tremendous contributions to the economy,
women's contributions are not valued in the same way as men's.
This is, in part, due to societally constructed ideas about the value of women’s independence – economic and otherwise. As a result women consistently find themselves at a lower
economic status than men. The majority of poor people in Canada
and in the rest of the world are women and women make up 70%
of the world's 1.5 billion people living in absolute poverty.
The fact that women as a group are poorer than men, that women's
poverty is more severe than men's, and that the rate of poverty
among women is increasing is referred to as the 'feminisation
In Manitoba, women earn just 72¢ for every $1 that men make.
For women with disabilities, Aboriginal women, and women
of colour, the differences are even greater.
According to OECD 2006 figures, women worldwide earn an average of just over 50¢ of what men earn. A study by the London School of Economics estimates
that being female costs the average woman approximately
250,000£ or $500 000 (more than half a million Canadian
dollars!) over her lifetime. If she decides to become a
mother, that number is even higher.2
- Much of women's work is not underpaid,
it is entirely unpaid. Women perform 2/3 of unpaid caregiving
work in Canada, worth up to $319 billion to the money economy
annually. According to the United Nations, globally that
number reaches $11 trillion. The enormous demands of unpaid
work reduce many women's opportunities to participate in
the paid work force. Many others accept part-time jobs or
less demanding and lower-paying jobs, in order to keep up
with the demands of unpaid work. Some Canadian statistics
suggest that women without children earn as much
as 97¢ for every dollar earned by men, while women with
children earn as little as 52¢.3
Women make up 51% of the population of Manitoba. However,
women make up 55% of the population of 65-74 year-olds and
62% of the population of people 75 and older. Half of women
aged 65 and over in Canada who live alone, live in poverty
because they have no pension of their own.
In 2000, 56% of single mothers in Manitoba lived below
the poverty line. Between 1990 and 1995 there was a 2.4%
decrease in the average family income but for families headed
by a single mother, the decrease was 7.2%.
In 2007, 40% of children in female lone-parent families were low income compared with 11% in 2-parent families and 15% in all other families.4 As the number
of single-headed households across the globe increases,
so does the incidence of women's and children's poverty.
According to the United Nations, women do 2/3 of the world's
work yet earn only 5% of the world's income and own less
than 1% of the world's real property. Women often lack resources
that might help them get out of poverty. This includes capital,
land, and borrowing opportunities.
Education is a key to women's economic empowerment. While
many women in Canada are now graduating from university
- more than men - women didn't always have access to higher
education (see Helen's story).
And today tuition levels are increasing creating new barriers
and students are graduating with much higher debt loads.
Although women and men participate at an almost equal rate
in training programs, women actually receive substantially
fewer hours than men, an increasing trend through the 1990s.5 In Manitoba, although they represent a majority of students, women are more likely than men to be studying part-time. Part-time students are not eligible for Manitoba Student Aid and bursaries. The full-time eligibility requirement disproportionately affects women and is compounded by the lack of adequate child care services.6 In much of the rest of the world women are still underrepresented
at all levels of education and training.
- Although women are still paid less
for the same work (unequal pay for equal work), the major
reason for women's pay inequality is job segregation. The
kinds of paid work in which women are more likely to be
involved (childcare, secretarial, and clothing production)
pay less than the kinds of work in which men are more likely
to be involved (construction and trades, truck drivers,
sales people). Women consistently find themselves in low-status,
low-paying jobs with few opportunities for advancement and
are overrepresented among part-time workers and in the informal
Globally, employment in the informal sector is on the rise. Eight out of ten women workers are considered to be in vulnerable employment in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, with global economic changes taking a huge toll on their livelihoods.7
The 2009 Bangkok Declaration for Beijing +15 expressed concern that “women continue to bear major responsibility for unpaid work, particularly care-giving work and this contributed to weaker labour market attachment for women, weaker access to social security benefits and less time for education/training, leisure and self-care and political activities.” 8
What are the Causes?
in Canada Quiz