The Plight of Women
BY: Aaron Anandji
Life right now is difficult. Every month, a new crisis introduces itself front-and-centre. And we all quickly forget about the hot topic of last week, until it too once again resurfaces with even more trying information. But in the midst of all this turbulence, one silent issue exists among the background noise: the struggles of women worldwide. And this is not in itself a separate issue. Rather, it is a problem that is present in almost all the notable crises of this year.
Covid-19. It is the gargantuan creature that continues to hog the spotlight. And it has undoubtedly caused great harm to an unfathomable number of people. But it has also disproportionately impacted women in many ways. On the front lines of this epidemic, women dominate. For example, the Canadian Nurses Association reported that “In 2019, about 91% of regulated nurses were female in Canada.” Furthermore, the Shanghai Women’s Federation reported that in the Hubei province, the original epicentre of the pandemic, more than half of all doctors, and upwards of 90% of all nurses were female, an incredible statistic. But there is a more unfortunate side to this as well. Jackie Dunham, a writer for CTV News, reported that “In March, women aged 25 to 54 years, their prime working years, lost more than twice the jobs (298,500) than men in the same age group (127,600), according to Statistics Canada. Nearly half of this decrease was among women working in part-time, often low-paying jobs in the service and care industries.What’s more, women of all ages accounted for two-thirds (63%) of total job losses in the country that month, despite making up less than half of the workforce.” This highlights a sad truth. Egalitarianism has been absent during this pandemic. And this has permeated from the workplace into the homes of women everywhere. PhD holders Caroline Bradbury-Jones and Louise Isham touched on this when they wrote in an Editorial for the Journal of Clinical Nursing: “As the virus continues to spread across the world... children and their mothers are particularly vulnerable to the risk of domestic violence.” Moreover, the United Nations Department of Global Communications shared that “early data shows that helplines in Singapore and Cyprus have registered a more than 30 per cent increase in calls,” and reported that “domestic violence was already one of the greatest human rights violations. Some 243 million women and girls (aged 15-49) have been subjected to sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner in the last 12 months.” It is an unfortunate truth, but also a pressing issue that needed to be brought to light.
In addition to the struggles wrought on women by the Coronavirus, there exist other sources of disparity and discrimination. And coincidently, these issues tie in to the current movement for racial equality. We can all acknowledge the increased hardships faced by peoples of colour. From differences in pay, to differences in opportunities, racial minorities must navigate great barriers. But this is even more true for women of colour. In fact, according to the Center for American Progress, “While women overall make 77 cents for every dollar the average white male makes, black women and Hispanic women only make 70 cents and 61 cents, respectively.” This is quite frankly a horrifying chunk of data, because there should be no meritocratic reason for this. But the greatest example of the plight of women is their representation in the US Congress, arguably the most powerful legislative body in the world. Currently, women make up only 23.7% of Congress. And women of colour account for a measly 8.8% of the 535 members of the 116th Congress.
Now that the facts have been laid out, the onus shifts to you, the reader. For this commentary can only be effective if people take what they read and apply it. In the countless number of important conversations taking place around the world, my hope is that healthy discourse about gender equality can take a headlining role.
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