Canada’s social and economic recovery efforts must take a feminist approach

April 30, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Karen Jensen, Federal Pay Equity Commissioner, issue the following statement:

“The COVID-19 crisis is having a disproportionate impact on women. There is a serious risk that the pandemic could erase the gains that have been made towards gender equality in Canada.

“Women are among the hardest hit by the pandemic. Social and economic barriers have been amplified for racialized women, Indigenous women, migrant women, women with low-income, single mothers, LGBTQ2I+ women and women with disabilities or mental health issues. The current situation has put women at greater risk of job loss, poverty, food insecurity, loss of housing and domestic violence.

“Many of the frontline workers being called upon to serve and support their communities are predominantly women. Some are the poorest paid people in the country. These essential jobs in health-care, food service, cleaning, customer service, and caregiving often provide little or no options for sick-leave or working-from-home. Social distancing and quarantine measures have meant that many women have had to continue working while caring for children with little or no support.

“These disproportionate impacts could have long-term and far reaching consequences. If we are to restore momentum in our efforts to bring about gender equality in Canada, social and economic recovery efforts must take a feminist approach. Closing the gender pay gap and improving social services for women in vulnerable circumstances are a must.

“We are all in this together. As we emerge from this crisis, Canada has an opportunity to design an approach to recovery that promotes gender equality and a more inclusive society. If women are able to thrive, the nation will thrive.

“As UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said, we must put women and girls at the centre of efforts to recover from COVID-19."

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