In a Hypothetical Society

International Women's Day is a wonderful occasion for raising awareness about some pressing women's issues around the world. What better way to do this than by taking part in Gender Across Border's Blog for International Women's Day and address the United Nations' Equal Rights, Equal Opportunity: Progress for All theme. In order to decide what equality meant to me, I imagined a hypothetical society without gender or racial barriers in several essential areas of life.

In a society where equality reigns...

I would tell my friend that she should pursue a PhD with a view to becoming a full professor. According to Statistics Canada's 2005 Perspectives, men with doctorates are twice as likely as women with PhDs to hold full professor positions.

I would have equal opportunity and access to blue-collar jobs, which are often unionized and pay more than pink-collar administrative, and sales and service jobs. Today, only 7.7% of Canadian women hold blue-collar positions (Statistics Canada, 2006).

I would have equal opportunity to become a top earner in Canada, earning more than $181,000 a year. Today, of the top earners in Canada with an annual income of $181,000 or more, 79% are men.

I would live in a society where women had bridged the gender wage gap. Today, women in Canada working full-time, full-year earn just 70.5% of that of men. Women of colour earn only 64%, while Native women earn a measly 46%. Moreover, in the part-time and part-year (seasonal) employment category, women earned just 64% of the pay of their male counterparts (Income Trends in Canada, Statistics Canada, 2007).

I would have a government that was made up equally of women and men representatives. Although women constitute 50.4% of the population, they account for only 22.1% of the Canadian Parliament. Canada ranks 49th in the world in terms of women's representation in parliament.

If I were a single woman over 65 years of age, I would not live in poverty. Some 17% of single senior women live in poverty.

If I were an incarcerated youth, I would find that the inmate population was representative of the population overall. Although Native youth represents approximately 6% of the total population, Aboriginal youth represents 33% of youth imprisoned in sentenced custody and 21% of youth on probation (Statistics Canada, 2007-2008).

If I disappeared or were murdered, the police would investigate promptly and thoroughly regardless of the colour of my skin. The Native Women's Association of Canada has reported that the families of missing or murdered Native women have encountered "a lack of responsiveness, disrespect, confusing or incorrect information, poor adherence to policies and protocols, and an overall discounting of family information." In the last 30 years, 520 native women have disappeared or been murdered: 43% of the cases remain open, while 53% have resulted in charges or were deemed suicides.

My government would not abolish the long-gun registry (shotguns and rifles) as a measure to end violence against women. Since the Canadian government has implemented a long-gun registry, nearly 8 million weapons have been registered. The police across Canada access this database 10,000 times a day. Since the registry was implemented in the early nineties, spousal homicide has decreased by 50%. According to Statistics Canada's 2009 Family Violence in Canada Report, women are four times more likely to be killed by their spouse than men are.

The first step in moving towards a society where equality reigns is raising awareness, and I would like to thank the Canadian Labour Congress and The Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action for their amazing report, Reality Check: Women in Canada and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action Fifteen Years On. This report steered me towards to a wealth of resources.

The second step towards equality is taking action. Join the Canadian Labour Congress and take action to prevent the current government from abolishing the long-gun registry.

Related posts:

National Day of Remembrance and Action On Violence Against Women
Doc Review: Finding Dawn by Christine Welsh
Participatory Video: Wapikonimobile
Book Review: Violent Partners by Linda G Mills


Anonymous | March 8, 2010 at 12:31 AM

Great post.
We need to be reminded that there is still a lot of work to do.

GChen | March 8, 2010 at 11:17 AM

Great post. Your statistics really make a vivid point of how far we have to go.

Heather | March 8, 2010 at 12:03 PM

I really should have mentioned how important keeping statistics are for gauging advances made by women. Kathryn Bigelow's win last night at the Oscars gives us the impression that women have finally crashed through the glass ceiling, but when we look at the actual statistics in Hollywood, women in director, producer and writer positions are still under-represented.

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