Today’s expanding globalized world is resulting in an extreme increase in various types of inequality. Not only is the wealthiest one per cent richer than the remaining 99 per cent, but as of 2015 figures, the richest 62 people on earth hold more wealth than the poorest 50 per cent. Since the economic recession, wealth has quickly shifted into the hands of the wealthier few due to economic policies that attempt to expand wealth rather than incomes.Social inequality is also still a major concern, and actions that attempt to minimize the work of women in comparison to men are proving to be good for corporate profits. Income inequality must be observed through a gendered lens; the concentration of men and women in different disciplines of work, as well as the increased ‘value’ of men’s work over women’s work can be observed through the fact that men are offered higher salary and promotion rates, holding all other factors constant.Women in the poorest countries are openly seen as the cheapest form of labour. The working women in these countries lack protection through labour laws and are not afforded the comfort of income security. Furthermore, the lack of government-subsidized day care has resulted in the limited ability of women to choose and prioritize a set career path.Canadian women in particular have less access to healthcare insurance than men due to less hours spent working because of family obligations. Indigenous and immigrant Canadian women are further disadvantaged in terms of income and government policies. Employment rates for immigrant women are seven per cent less than for Canadian-born women and 14 per cent less than immigrant men, while the employment of Indigenous women lags five per cent behind that of Indigenous men and 11 per cent behind non-Indigenous women.To take this from a broader perspective, full-time working women in Canada earn 72 per cent of what men earn. Therefore, certain government solutions must be implemented in order to ensure the closing of the income and employment gap between genders and reduce social inequality within specific groups.Oxfam’s Shortchanged campaign recommends that the government review their financial and social safety policies in order to ensure recognition of unequal gender roles in terms of employment.Furthermore, by adopting a more progressive fiscal policy, the government should ensure that tax cuts are reallocated towards the poorest sectors rather than the wealthy ones. Tax avoidance must also be addressed. Joint taxation policies that disincentivize lower-earning individuals, usually women, from returning to the workforce should be improved. All countries that have introduced such joint taxation policies have experienced a stable male workforce but also a decrease in women’s participation in the workforce. This causes a weakened economy due to a less flexible and diverse labour supply.Governments must also work to fundamentally transform policies through the reallocation of federal and provincial budgets towards public services that provide women with choice. More specifically, providing more financing towards government-subsidized day care is a necessity to allow the choice to pursue a full-time career.Finally, governments should take a more active role in the protection of workers. They can do this by ensuring that all workers have equal access to safe employment opportunities, promoting non-discrimination in work environments, and protecting women’s rights to organize.The inequality between and among genders is often overlooked in the twenty-first century, as we are led to believe that we live in a progressive world. However, we are facing a crisis that can only be resolved through both changes in policy and our state of mind.Toufiq Shakhshir is a second-year Rotman Commerce student studying Finance and Economics. Alok Herath is a second-year student studying Political Science and Global Health. They are both active members of Oxfam U of T’s event-planning committee.
Published: 1:23 am, 14 November 2016
Modified: 9:00 pm, 16 November 2016