One of the Biggest Challenges for Women Today: The Feminization of Poverty
The division of labour and education along gender lines, racial inequalities and discrimination, and unpaid domestic labour all contribute to the growing feminization of poverty. Feminists are working to decrease the income gap, to benefit the overall health of women and the population at large. The term feminization of poverty describes the disproportionate amount of women who are poor, and its link to the division of labour along gender lines (Calixte, Johnson, & Motapanyane, 2010). The Canadian Labour Congress reported that in 2005, women working full time earned 70.5 cents to the dollar that every male in a comparable job earned ( as cited in Calixte, et al., 2010, p. 17) Across the board, women are more likely to suffer from poverty than men are (Harnan, 2006). Feminists are constantly trying to decrease the wage gap with activism.
Women are more educated now than they have ever been, but even women who are university graduates are earning less than men. Frenette and Coulombe reached the conclusion that this was often due to their degrees being in gendered fields of study, such as the arts and humanities (as cited in Gaszo, 2010, p. 224) Women also tend to work in fields associated with lower pay, which includes service and sales work (Gaszo, 2010). In the garment industry, women, especially immigrants and women who work at home, are routinely taken advantage of by companies such as Wal-Mart and paid far too little (Ng, 2006).
Racism and discrimination along the lines of ability and age also contribute to poverty in women. Women of colour are underemployed and paid less than white women (Gaszo, 2010). They are also more likely to be employed through job agencies, and therefore have less access to benefits and their jobs are less secure (Modiba, 2006). Raimunda Reece explains how immigrant women are especially taken advantage of in the domestic worker "scheme", as they are not entitled to vacation pay, overtime, social security, and other benefits given to permanent residents of Canada (2010). Discrimination against lesbians and disabled women decrease their participation in the labour market as well (Harman 2006).
Perhaps the largest factor in the feminization of poverty is the role that reproduction plays in women's lives. Despite the fact that a capitalist society relies on this unpaid labour that is provided mostly by women, work that falls in the domestic sphere is still not generally considered to be work that has any economic value (Gazso, 2010). Work that centers around giving birth, raising children, and housework are all very important activities that need to be done by somebody, but are still not valued according to their worth. Women with children are less likely to be gainfully employed (Gaszo, 2010) and of course women who spend their lives raising children and homemaking do not get a pension for all the unpaid work they participated in...