In fact, the current debate around finding ways to keep workers working longer misses a few very key points, but that’s likely because the opinion shapers and decision makers have not consulted women. But then, what else is new? What they’d find if they did, generally speaking, is that women’s work is not only undervalued, but women are not getting a chance to reach their potential — to the detriment of the economy.
That’s because for too many women, the barriers to the labour market, to obtaining good jobs and breaking the glass ceiling are still plentiful. The fact that there are few supports — child care, for example — to support women in employment is another contributing factor. Women could be contributing a lot more to the country’s bottom line — to the nation’s gross national product (GDP) — if only they had the opportunity.
We still have about 20 per cent of women who work part-time because of family and child-care responsibilities. In other words, too many women still have no access to affordable, high-quality child care or other caregiving supports. Another 23 per cent, according to a recent study by Statistics Canada, worked part-time in 2006 because they couldn’t get full-time work, and yet every day we are inundated with complaints from employers that they can’t find workers, and so we need to keep people working longer or the economy will collapse. Not only are many women underemployed, but they comprise a fair number of the more than one million unemployed Canadians who are looking for work.
Child care. Child care. Child care. How many times do people have to talk about child care before the government actually does something about it that actually helps low income women? My niece was born the other day... perhaps her grandchildren might have affordable universal child care available to them? Or her great grandchildren?