Did You Know: Women And Poverty In Canada 

Introduction: April 16-22 is Prevention of Violence Against Women Week. During this time the Robson Valley Support Society will be running five campaigns throughout our communities of Valemount and McBride on various topics affecting women. Since we cannot run all of these within the week of April 16-22, we will be featuring a topic over the next five issues.

One of the key reasons to address women’s poverty is that helping poor women helps poor children, putting an end to a vicious cycle.

Some groups have higher rates of poverty and are more likely than others to be poor. 

They include: 

More than 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness annually, costing the economy $7 billion. On a given night, more than 35,000 Canadians are homeless. Women parenting on their own enter shelters at twice the rate of two-parent families. Domestic violence against women and children is a contributing factor to homelessness. When women become homeless, they are also at an increased risk of violence, sexual assault and exploitation.

Why should we focus on women and poverty?

When children are poor, it’s usually because their mother is poor. The number of lone parent families is on the rise and 80 per cent of all lone-parent families are headed by women.

Women who leave a partner to raise children on their own are more than five times likely to live in poverty than if they stay with their partner. There’s plenty of evidence showing abused women sometimes stay in abusive relationships because they know that leaving will plunge themselves and their children into poverty.

Why are women more likely to be poor?

Women spend more time doing unpaid work, leaving less time for paid work.  Each day, men and women work about the same number of hours, but women do more unpaid work (housework, childcare, meal preparation, eldercare, etc.). Among families with both parents working full time, women spend 49.8 hours per week on childcare, while men spend 27.2 hours per week. Among full-time working couples, women spend 13.9 hours per week on household work, while men spend 8.6 hours.

In order to juggle their domestic responsibilities, many women choose part-time, seasonal, contract, or temporary jobs. Unfortunately, most of these jobs are low paid, with no security, few opportunities for advancement, and no health benefits. Almost 70% of part-time workers are women and 60% of minimum-wage earners are female. 

Canada’s lack of affordable childcare—and the lack of workplace policies such as flex-time and caregiver leave—often forces women into career choices that severely limit their earning power.

For more information on child subsidy, budgeting employment and training opportunities - please call Robson Valley Support Society at 250-569-2266 ask for Penny and or Bridget.

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Did You Know?

Sexual assault is any sexual activity or touching that happens without your permission. Sexualized violence includes more than rape; if you have been kissed, fondled, forced to (or too afraid not to) participate, you didn't give consent. It can happen to women and men, girls and boys.Hopefully you can find someone safe to talk to who will listen and support you; but if you can’t, write down what happened in case you want to contact support services later. Unbiased and confidential program staff at the Robson Valley Support Society (RVSS) can provide information, support, and confidential safe shelter at any time. We can explain what will happen if you do decide to go to the hospital and/or report to police, and help and/or accompany you through those processes.Medical staff can help treat injuries; test for sexually transmitted infections and provide antibiotics; provide immunizations against Hepatitis; provide emergency birth control methods; and test for “date rape drugs”.A hospital or health centre can collect evidence using a sexual assault kit. It can even be held on ice while you decide if you want to make a police report. If you decide not to, after twelve months the Kit will be destroyed.Health care workers will not automatically report the crime to the police. You don’t have to report the assault to have the kit done.The decision to report the assault to the police is yours. You might choose to wait, just remember that it’s easier for the police to investigate the sooner you are able to report.Third Party Reporting is an option in BC for those who wish to report to the RCMP but remain anonymous. It’s a statement made with the help of a RVSS worker, outlining the incident, giving as many details as possible, but does not reveal the identity of the victim.Sexual Assault is a crime under the Criminal code of Canada, and there is no Statute of Limitations on reporting it; that means it can be reported at any time. It is important that someone who has experienced sexualized violence have a supportive, non-judgemental person to talk to. If you are that person your only job is to believe them and support their choices and the pace they make them at.