Women bear brunt of downturn

Hello there!  We the accessibility team at www.sterlingcreations.ca would like to present you with a truly sobering article for today.  One that truly outlines the plight of women in Canada and indeed for most of the rest of the world.  This article sure sobered us up and we are sure that it will do the same to you.

Please read on and think about our women folk as they struggle during these very difficult times.
Have a pleasant day.
Your accessibility team
women bear brunt of downturn
Antonia Zerbisias
The Toronto Star, Nov. 26, 2008
We may all be tightening our belts, but women are feeling the biggest pinch.
They will soon be pounding the pavement, many starting in January, when you
can bet that their jobs in retail will disappear.
The sale signs are already grim. Consumer confidence is the lowest it’s been
since 1982.
Fact is, women have always made up the majority of Canada’s poor, with one
in seven living below the poverty line. More than half of single-parent
families are headed by women, many of whom never see a support cheque from the father
of their children.
There’s little economic justice.
First there’s the wage gap, that 70-cent dollar on average that women earn
in comparison with men. So, when wages fall, they fall more precipitously
for women.
Second, women have higher costs. There’s still no equity in the price of a
haircut or for dry-cleaning a blouse compared with a shirt. What’s more, as
prices go up, whether for food or energy, they eat up a bigger proportion of
women’s wages.
As a result, women on the edge also have less to save, and to put into
Next, there’s the fact that so many women work in service jobs where there
is no benefit package, no security, no severance. If a banker or stock
trader loses his or her job, there goes a nanny, a cleaning lady and maybe a
dog walker. There are no golden handshakes for maids.
Then there’s the reality that women live longer than men, and need to
stretch their mingy pensions – assuming they have any – even further.
And why do they have smaller pensions, often half those that men get?
Because so many of them, myself included, stayed home for years where,
despite contributing to the economy in so many ways, their work was unpaid.
(One study shows that women do two-thirds of the unpaid caregiving in
Canada, and contribute even more through volunteerism.)
Even the employment insurance rules discriminate.
As the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives reported a year ago,
qualification requirements for benefits are such that, even though they pay
premiums, as many as two in three working women never receive a cent in EI
if they lose their jobs.
Which could explain why, as Statistics Canada reported yesterday, this
September, compared with last, the number of men collecting EI was up 5.7
per cent while the number of women getting benefits climbed only 1.7 per
It wasn’t necessarily because women are holding on to jobs while men are
losing theirs.
Note that, south of the border, women were the ones mostly caught by the
subprime mortgage crisis partly because they were seeking healthier
environments for their children.
No wonder Sara Mersha, the executive director of Direct Action for Rights
and Equality (DARE) in Rhode Island, describes what’s happening to many
women in the U.S. as an “economic Katrina.”
Paradoxically, some of the right-wing commentators who blame women for the
financial disaster, who deride “welfare mothers,” see no shame in hundreds
of billions of dollars in government handouts for fat cat executives and
How much more effectively these mind-boggling sums could be invested in
communities, to improve housing, health care and other services and lift up
women and their children for generations to come.
Here in Ontario, it’s true that manufacturing jobs are in jeopardy – and
that many of those positions are held by men.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has discussed bailing out our auto sector. Who
knows if that will help?
One thing’s sure: No matter what happens to the assembly line, it’s women
who will be run over.
Antonia Zerbisias is a Living section columnist. azerbisias @ thestar.ca.
She blogs at thestar.blogs.com.   
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About Donna Jodhan

Donna Jodhan is an award winning blind author, advocate, sight loss coach, blogger, podcast commentator, and accessibility specialist.
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