International Women

International Women’s Day Statement – Canadians for Peace and Socialism

Forward To a 21st Century Full Emancipation of Women!

Defeat Prime Minister Harper’s Anti-Women Agenda!

March 8th 2011

The majority of Canadian women who rely on wages, salaries and contracts to live and to support their families are defiantly resisting all attempts, overt and covert, by the right-wing minority Harper Conservative Government and its big business backers to roll back the economic and political gains won by women in the past.  

Women everywhere are determined to retain past gains and move forward into the 21st century to challenge and overthrow all remaining barriers imposed on them by capitalism. Women, not to be denied have become a powerful political force for progressive change in Canada.

Women, young, old, married, single, mothers or childless, confront the fact that formal laws proclaiming women’s equality are proving in practice to be inadequate to protect their special health needs and vital economic, political, human and civil rights.

Women are justly demanding more than formal rights. They are insisting by all means on real equality of rights to a full and independent life as workers, commanding a living wage assured by first class government-legislated universal child care. Women demand all gender barriers to opportunities for education and training in occupations of their choice be removed.

Women upon reaching retirement age, some of whom have been kept out of the work force to care for children or aging parents, are fighting for decent pensions, free public health care and pharmacare,   affordable and fully subsidized seniors housing and recreational activities.

The Harper Government opposes the principle of full equality of rights for women. The minority right-wing Conservative Harper Government opposes the principle of universality of social benefits for all   Canadian people taking particular delight in opposing pay equity, universal child care, decent pensions, and subsidized affordable senior care facilities for women.  The Harper Government by stealth encourages faith based charity and for profit solutions to all social problems faced by women.

The Harper Government carries forward this anti-women policy to win the votes of those who support a hateful misogynist faith based 19th century stereotypical role of women in society. Prime Minister Harper, plays to these narrow faith based right wing voters, but acts on behalf of the profit motives of employers who derive maximum profits from the low wage status of millions of working Canadian women.

Eight millions (8.1 million) or 58.3% of all Canadian women of working age labour for wages and salaries.[1]  In 2009 72.9% of employed women had children under the age of 16 living at home. The employment rate for women with children under the age of 3 was 64.4% in 2009, more than double the proportion of 27.6% in 1976. Additionally, 11.9% of working women were self-employed in 2009, up from 8.6% in 1976.

The plight of part-time women workers is severe. In 2009, 2.2 million women worked part time, that is, fewer than 30 hours a week at their main job. The share of women working part time rose from 23.6% in 1976 to 26.9% in 2009.

In 2009, nearly 1 million women, or 11.9% of all those with jobs, were self-employed, up from 8.6% in 1976. In 2009, 2.2 million women worked part time, that is, fewer than 30 hours a week at their main job. The share of women working part time rose from 23.6% in 1976 to 26.9% in 2009. In comparison, the rate for men in 2009 was 11.9%, less than half that of women, although it more than doubled from 1976. What this means in practice is that employers were provided with the cheap labour of millions of women without the requirement of paying for benefits.

Women in Canada a Gender Report 2010[2] by Statscan reveals that women in 2008 earned on average $30,100 compared to $46,900 for men or roughly 65%.  Women with less than a Grade 9 educations earned $20,800 compared with earnings of $62,800 for women with a university degree in contrast to men who had less than a Grade 9 education earning $40,400 compared with $91,800 for those with a university degree.

In 1976 22.3% of women were in unionized jobs; by 2009, this had increased to 32.6%. Men’s unionization has decreased, from 39% in 1976 to 30.3% in 2009. As a result, unionization rates were slightly higher among women than men in 2009.

Women who were unionized had average hourly wages that were about 94% of men's in 2008 compared to 80% in 1998. The gap between women's and men's hourly wages was larger if employees were non-unionized. In 2008, non-unionized women had average hourly wages of $17.48 compared to $22.24 for men who were in non-unionized jobs, however the wage ratio remained largely unchanged at 78% in 1998 and 79% in 2008.

Temporary employees’ average hourly wages were less than the wages of permanent workers at an average of $16.59 per hour in 2008 compared to $21.98 for permanent employees.  The hourly wage ratio between women and men who were temporary workers was 92%, meaning that for every dollar earned by a man, a woman earned 92 cents. This ratio was unchanged from 1998.

Such inequities fall most heavily on single women with children. In 2009, 68.9% of female lone parents with children under the age of 16 living at home were employed.

The above statistics cannot begin to reveal the actual inequities faced by women workers as they are experienced on a day to day, week to week basis.

The latest news on the cost of living is predicting a 5% hike in food prices in the coming months. That is a wage cut for every working class family in Canada. On top of that, the Harper Government is reducing corporate taxes and plans to cut transfers to the provinces which will off-load more costs for social programs to the provinces, municipalities and wage earners.  Women workers will be particularly hard hit.   

Low corporate taxes means high cost of living for women. Women require subsidies to partially overcome the triple burden they carry by holding down a job, paying for child care out of wages, and providing for family needs in the home.

Underpaid and overworked women are a great deal for the employers and a bad deal for Canadian working class families. What better way for Prime Minister Harper to assist the profit motives of employers and big business than to use millions of low paid women to subsidize low taxes for corporations and relieve the parasitical classes of wealth and privilege from the responsibilities to provide women with pay equity and child care.

In 2009, the number of unemployed women rose to 608,000, compared with 487,000 in 2008 and 476,000 in 2007. The unemployment rate for women increased to 7.0% in 2009, the highest since 2003.

In 2009, 67.0% of employed women worked in teaching, nursing and related health occupations, clerical or other administrative positions, or sales and service occupations. In contrast, 31.0% of employed men worked in these fields. Many of these women are employed as civil servants and it is precisely in these areas of employment that will be targeted for downsizing and wage freeze by Finance Minister Flaherty when he brings down his made-at-the-IMF low corporate tax anti-working class austerity budget on March 22nd.

This International Women’s Day, the attack by the right-wing Harper Conservative minority government on worker’s families, against women and young people and children is resisted by the organized action of the left, labor, peace and democratic movements of the people.

There is a growing recognition among all progressive forces, that the struggle for the full emancipation of women from all forms of double and triple oppression, inequality and exploitation, for full economic independence, for an end to all forms of violence against women is inseparable from the struggle of the working class as a whole to end the system of wage slavery. 

The struggle for women’s emancipation is unresolved. It has been going on since the advent of class society. It continues today. All of the advances in the struggle for women’s full equality have been achieved as a result of the organized and united struggle of men and women together in full recognition of the fact, that when women are oppressed and denied their full economic, political and social rights, all working people are diminished and weakened in the struggle for a better life for all.

On this International Women’s Day Canadians for Peace and Socialism, greet the women of Canada and join with them in their struggle for full equality of rights in all endeavors, in the full knowledge that each partial victory for women’s emancipation moves the whole struggle forward and brings us all closer to socialism.