I’ve never considered myself a feminist. I’ve never felt that I couldn’t do anything simply because I was a female. I don’t think I’ve been scared to be a woman or been taken advantage simply because of gender.
However, now that I am raising two girls to be strong, healthy and happy members of society, I’m learning more about what it means to be a feminist. Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. Growing up in Canada, with the right to vote and hold office, I never thought there was a need to keep fighting for equal rights. As I look around now with the eyes of a mom, I know there is still more to do to ensure my daughters are never penalized for being a girl or harassed or put into a corner.
Currently, on average, women make less money than men for doing the same job. I know I’m worth what my male co-workers are and I want my daughters to earn what they deserve when they enter the workforce. According to Stats Can women in the core working ages of 25 to 54 earned an average of $26.92 per hour in 2018, while their male counterparts earned $31.05. In other words, women earned $4.13 (or 13.3 per cent) less per hour, on average, than men.
That means women make 87 cents for every dollar a man makes.
In Canada it is illegal to pay a woman less than a man simply based on gender and the wage gap is complicated but it does exist. First of all, jobs traditionally held by women make less than jobs traditionally held by men. For example, most early educators in Canada are women with a median salary of less than $30,000 while most truck drivers in Canada are male and take home an average of $45,000. There are other factors that contribute to the pay gap including the fact that more woman work part-time than men.
There are some ways we can help close the gap. The Canadian Women’s Foundation is investing in community programs that help women to increase their income by launching a small business, learning a skilled trade, or working in a job placement. Another way we can close the gap is to advocate for more affordable child care. Parents pay on average $900 in B.C. for daycare a month, per child. While the provincial government is working toward opening more spots for $10 a day daycare, more can be done.
Aside from earning less money, women are also at a disadvantage when it comes to spending their hard-earned dollars. Have you ever heard of the pink tax? The ‘tax’ is the extra amount that women pay for everyday products such as shampoo, razors, haircuts, dry cleaning and other things. Good housekeeping found that this ‘tax’ is on products that span an entire woman’s life, from girls’ toys, to braces to canes and adult diapers.
A website dedicated to getting rid of this practice called axthepinktax.com says the average woman is charged more than $1,300 every year. Things designed for a woman cost more than the same things designed for a man and while it may it seem like it is only a couple of pennies, it all adds up.
It may all seem materialistic and all about money, but in the end it is about fairness. I want my daughters to earn the money they deserve and spend it properly.