March 8 is International Women's Day, an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate women’s achievements, and through its #FeministRecovery theme, recognise the impacts COVID-19 has had on women and support an inclusive recovery. It is also an occasion to raise awareness on the work that still needs to be done, because despite all the achievements and successes we have had, more effort is needed to advance gender equality and to protect the progress made so far.
If anything, the pandemic has proven that years of hard-earned gains can be erased overnight by global crises such as this pandemic. While its effects have been most felt by those who are marginalized, vulnerable or in difficulty, according to the United Nations, women and girls have shown to be disproportionately affected. For one, the pandemic has led to increased incidents of gender-based violence to the point of being coined the "shadow pandemic". It has also caused women to face more layoffs and to suffer from the lack of childcare, just to list those.
Canada is not immune from this reality; the pandemic has also unfairly affected Canadian women.
“The pandemic has exposed the lack of concrete protections for workers, especially for workers in sectors where women are often employed, and for women who work in low-wage and precarious jobs,” said Marie Clarke Walker, Secretary Treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress, as reported in a 2020 CLC article, which still reflects today’s reality.
According to the Canadian Women's Foundation, women accounted for 63 percent of the one million jobs lost in March 2020, and 70 percent of the job losses among workers aged 25-54. The pandemic has also had a negative impact on women's health and well-being.
In the last year, the federal public service union community has come to recognize the extra burden on women caused by the pandemic, as many have reported facing insurmountable domestic challenges jeopardising their ability to keep up with their work program and any chance to achieve work life balance.
The pandemic has set us back in the fight for gender equality, but we must all do our part to move forward in the quest for an equitable federal public service and society for all.
Information you can use: Code 699
Did you know that as a public service employee, you may have access to paid leave for purposes other than those specified in your collective agreements to assist you during the pandemic?
Click here for more information.