On Sunday we will celebrate the International Day of Women’s Rights. It’s a time to remember the feminist battles waged in Quebec and that there are still many battles to fight. It’s important that we participate in these struggles and see them through.
Austerity measures affected predominantly female activity sectors up to 30% more than predominantly male sectors. Despite past battles for pay equity, there is still a 10.2% wage gap between men and women and women’s average retirement income is 33% lower than that of men. The facts speak for themselves and we must forge ahead being “feminist with all of our might.”
It is our responsibility as women and as members of society to fight economic inequality. It is everyone’s responsibility to demand a salary catch-up for the public sector in Quebec, a sector in which one out of every three jobs is held by a woman. Inequality doesn’t stop at retirement, so it is also our responsibility to demand better compensation for healthcare professionals by including certain premiums in their eligible salary for their retirement plan.
Even though in 2020 men take on more family responsibilities, studies show that women still carry most of the mental load in the home and face more challenges related to family-work-study balance. Women are still more likely to care for a sick parent or child and devote more of their time to it. In 2016, 75% of single parent families in Quebec were headed by women.
On March 8, I declare that invisible work should be made visible. Healthcare professionals’ demanding work interferes far too often with their family lives, forcing them to make impossible choices to balance their family responsibilities. Consequently, it is our responsibility to demand a pay increase and improved parental rights.
In honour of the International Day of Women’s Rights, I would also like to say that women have the right to work in a safe environment, free of violence. Far too often, we disregard the violence that healthcare professionals face, saying that the screams, insults, spitting and punches come from patients who are suffering, who have lost touch with reality, and that, unfortunately, it’s part of healthcare professionals’ work. Recent events in Saint-Jérôme, at the Pavillon Albert-Prévost, in Granby, at the Douglas Institute, in Sorel, etc., are proof that these assaults are not isolated cases.
I rise up against the trivialization of the organizational violence healthcare professionals face. The work overload, staff shortage, systematic use of MOT and continuous increase in the number of patients are also forms of violence that healthcare professionals deal with on a daily basis. No other profession is subjected to as much violence.
And so, as March 8 approaches, it is important that we acknowledge that is our responsibility as healthcare professionals and women, to stop excusing the violence we face, to force our employers to finally take it seriously, to make our work environment safer, to set up enough teams, to implement safe ratios, and to get the government to use its legislative power to protect women in the workplace.
On this International Day of Women’s Rights, let’s celebrate the contribution of feminist struggles to Quebec society, and remember that we need to join forces to achieve future gains. 2020 is an important year for us, as healthcare professionals and as women.