- Agnes Macphail
The 20th century has been a period of rapid and far-reaching change for many women but life for women in some parts of the world still remains harsh. Even where females have experienced great advances like those in Canada, there are still some similarities between their economic role today and the role of women in the 1900s. During the 19th and 20th century, attempts were made to define and extend human rights but most of these struggles ignored or denied the rights of more than half the human race women. It was unsurprising that this is the case because at the time, Canada was a patriarchal society, a society in which men have more power than women, readier access than women to what is valued in the society, and, in consequence, are in control over many, if not most aspects of women's lives. It wasn't until the women's movement that has touched the lives of most Canadian women and has transformed the structure of their daily existence; it was this movement that eliminated the fact that Canada was a patriarchal society and improved the economic role of Canadian women. Since the 1960s women have undertaken a vigorous assault on Canada's system of power and the nation now claims to be an equal society and emphasizes significantly on equality amongst all but are we all actually equal? Has the glass-ceiling effect been broken at last? That question still remains unclear but what will remain clear is that once women take up positions where men are unwilling to work, distinguish themselves independent from men in the labour force, and begin to set their desire of exploration for their interest in politics, equilibrium between the two sexes will finally be established.
The changing economic roles of women have improved little with regards to the average earnings of women. The average earnings of employed women today are still considerably lower than those of men despite the nation's declaration that it is an equal country with equal pay amongst all. In 1998, employed women had average earnings of just $23,900, a figure that was only 64% that of all men with jobs. Even when employed on a full-time, full-year basis, the earnings of women remain below those of their male counterparts. In 2002, full-time employed women earned only 71% of what men earned. Furthermore, women receive lower returns for their education than those of the opposite sex. Even female university graduates employed full-time, full-year earned only 70% as much as their male colleagues in 1998. One result of the fact that the earnings of women are well below those of men is that the overall incomes of women remain well below those of men. In 1998, the average annual pre-tax income of women aged 15 and over from all sources was $20,800, just 61% the figure for men, who had an average income of $33,000 that year. In 1995, the average income of visible minority women was $16,600, compared to $17,100 for other women in Canada, and $23,600 for visible minority men. Women still earn more than $5000 a year less than the visible minority men. The need to better address the wage gap in Canada is clear; it is a fundamental aspect of improving women's economic independence, and to ensure a new millennium that is fair and equitable for all Canadians.
Although women failed to create a pay equity between the supposed "dominant" sex and them, women are slowly catching up to the men in similar work areas and are also filling an area where men are not willing to work. The majority of employed women continue to work in occupations in which are still considered traditional female occupation. In 1999, 70% of all employed women were working in teaching, nursing and related health occupations, clerical or other administrative positions, and sales and...