The effects of COVID are felt, particularly, by women.
Stop right there. Yes, the pandemic affects everyone, and all genders matter.
However, the impact is born disproportionately by that demographic identified most often by its uteri.
Start with safety in the workplace.
More than half the women who work in this country are employed in what Statistics Canada calls the ‘5 C’s’ – caring, clerical, catering, cashiering and cleaning.
Ninety-two per cent of nurses, for example, are female.
The industries employing the majority of women, for the most part, are deemed essential.
The essential occupations dominated by men, for instance, mining, forestry and construction, do not require the constant risk of exposure to the public.
Turning to the financial impact of COVID, women also struggle differently.
Again citing Stats Canada, women earn .87 cents on the dollar, compared to men, and are more likely to work part-time.
In communities heavily reliant upon natural resource-based businesses, such as this community, the pay gap is wider still. Princeton women, employed full-time and year-round, make nearly half – or .44 – of the salaries earned by men.
Now think about what happens in the home.
Twenty per cent of families, with children under 16, are led by a single parent and 81 per cent of those parents are mothers.
There are far more women – alone – balancing childcare and work, schooling, doctors’ appointments and food budgets. And they are doing it under social distancing orders that don’t easily allow for outside support.
Finally, there are women whose lives are in increased danger due to COVID.
RCMP in areas of B.C. are reporting increased calls of domestic violence (horrible term ‘domestic violence,’ as if a beating ought to be described the same way as a bottle of wine). Traditional resources are not always available to abused women under pandemic conditions.
None of this is to diminish the real hardships foisted on men by COVID, or the world at large. But it should be noted that for those born lacking a Y chromosome, the situation can look different, and more frightening.
It’s also a reminder of the importance of addressing, and hopefully deconstructing, the deeply buried systemic barriers in our communities that have brought this about.
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