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WOMEN IN THE LABOUR FORCE EVENTS
Transcript of WOMEN IN THE LABOUR FORCE EVENTS
While they may not have been fighting, Canada's women were not idle
Never retract, never explain, never apologize - get the thing done and let them howl.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
Women in World War One and Two
The Radium Girls
During World War One (WWI) and World War Two (WWII) Canada's women worked tirelessly to fill the spaces that men had left at home. During both WWI and WWII Canadian women began to shoulder a great deal of responsibility for the war effort. Over 3000 received training with the Voluntary Aid Detachment, Red Cross, and St. John Ambulance, and served as nursing sisters in the war, 33 losing their lives and 200 receiving medals for their bravery. Those that remained in Canada began taking over the roles of the men that had left to fight in the War, some because they felt they had to do their part in the war, and others because it appealed to their sense of adventure. Some became farmerettes (farm workers), harvesting crops and hoeing the earth for about $4 a week plus room and board. Others became munitions workers, making shells for the war. These women worked long hours in poor conditions for a salary of around $9 a week. These wages were often just barely enough to make ends meet, and all money earned was handed over to a woman's husband or mother. The dramatic change in women's roles was not well-received by many men, who treated female co-workers with resentment. Yet women's involvement in the war effort undoubtedly helped Canada win the war. Despite women's contributions to the war, it was still in many ways a 'man's world'. Many women felt it was only fair that they and men were given equal rights, since they were now doing men's jobs.
Wednesday, January 15, 2015
Vol XCIII, No. 311
A Step in the Right Direction
The Creation of the Royal Commision
While women were legally allowed to work, some still opposed the progression
The Polytechnique Massacre
-In April 1963 Judy LaMarsh became minister of national health and welfare in the Pearson administration. She indicated to Pearson the need for a public inquiry on the status of women in Canada (Similar to President Kennedy had just done in the U.S.)
-Although the subject was raised in the federal cabinet on Oct 11 1965, the media was negative to the idea. LaMarsh told pearson that in order to conduct the inquiry she would need the help of Laura Sabia, then the President of the Canadian Federation of University Women.
-On April 18 1966 Sabia sent a letter to all established women’s organizations in Canada calling for a meeting to discuss the status of women. The meeting, held in Toronto on 3 may 1966 was attended by 50 women representing 32 organizations. It lead to the establishment of the Committee on the Equality of Women in Canada (CEW) under the leadership of Sabia.
-Despite the initiative, the government was hesitant.
-January 1967: Sabia reacted by a veiled threat of a women’s march on Ottawa. In addition, she also continued to exert pressure for action on Women’s issues within the cabinet.
-3 February 1967: the Prime Minister announced that the Government had decided to establish a royal commission that was mandated to inquire and report on the status of Women in Canada and to recommend what steps might be taken by the federal government to ensure equal opportunities with men in all aspects of society, having regard for the distribution of the legislative powers under the constitution of Canada, regulations and concerns that affect the rights and activities of women.
-The Royal Commission on the Status of Women was a watershed for the women’s movement and a symbol of second wave feminism. It was a critical juncture characterized by Naomi Black as the “first success of the second wave of Canadian feminism." According to Black, "the key period for the second wave of the Canadian women’s movement was the years 1967-1970. The activities of the Royal Commission in this period resulted in a significant increase in public awareness of women’s situation. The same period produced women’s liberation and radical feminism in Canada. These latter groups, which drew substantial public attention, can take much of the credit for directing attention to such crucial women’s issues as equal pay, abortion, and violence against women.”The Royal Commission on the Status of Women published its report in 1970, and it became a rallying point for women and led to the formation of a new national federation of women’s organizations.
On December 6, 1989, 14 women were killed at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique by a gunman claiming to hate all feminists and the place women were beginning to take in society. The gunman targeted Ecole Polytechnique because it was an engineering school, and he did not like that women were pursuing powerful jobs that had previously been held by men. His suicide note read “They want to keep the advantages of women (e.g. cheaper insurance, extended maternity leave, etc.,) while seizing for themselves those of men”. The attack on the 14 women reminded the world that many were still against women in the labour force, and the steps that would have to be taken to ensure a safe environment for women in the workplace.
WOMEN IN THE LABOUR FORCE: EVENTS
In the paid labour force, the women’s movement focused their concern on “equal pay for equal work”. In the ‘80s the demand for equal pay for equal work was in high demand. The demand came after many people started to compare dissimilar jobs in order to establish fair pay scales for any jobs requiring a similar skill set, efforts or responsibility. The Royal Commission on Equality in Employment, which tabled the report in 1984, made a number of recommendations for drastic changes. Employment equality and pay equity have become a concern for unions, employees and gov. Many programs, in an attempt to overcome historical discrimination began to promote women into types and levels of occupations which previously had been unavailable.
The Years that Brought Change...
-Nellie McClung, Prominent in the Women's Suffrage Movement
The Women working in WWI undoubtedly helped to win the war but while they contributed to the war effort, many were exposed to unsafe working conditions. A prominent example of this is the Radium Girls.
-The Radium girls all worked for the U.S. Radium Corporation painting dials in a factory in New Jersey
-In order to achieve precise work they would run the paintbrushes, coated in radium paint between their lips.
-It was not long before the girls started to become very ill, starting usually with pains in their mouths, having their jaws rot or removed and soon dying.
-When the company looked into the sicknesses it discovered that the radium was to blame. The company did not tell their employees and put in a "Statue of limitations" into the girl's contracts so they could not sue the company for any illness after they had been away from the factory for more that four years.
-Six women that had all worked at the factory began to get very ill themselves and decided to sue the company for compensation at $250,000 for each of them.
-More studies were conducted into the company and it was discovered that the former and current employees had been exposed to so much radiation that they were still exhaling radon gas 5 years after quitting the company.
-The company made constant delays to the court date
-When the case finally did go through, 4 of the five radium girls were dead and the remaining members were compensated $10,000 and a $400 pension along with a guarantee that their medical bills would be paid.
This story made national news and the story of the suffering of the employees because of the employer sparked demand for a safer work environment for women in both the states and Canada.
i.e., In the same year as the trial a Canadian woman was arrested for assisting workers form a union and protest their working conditions.
When did These Events Occur?
The women’s movement was going strong from the 1800s to present day. However there were many important global events that affected the movement. One being WWI on August 4, 1914. With the beginning of the war, women were needed to replace the jobs that men had traditionally held. The women's movement really began to pick up speed around the first and second world war when women were highly encouraged to get into the labour force and contribute to their country. The fight for better working conditions, equal pay and the right to work itself continued after WWI and continues to this day. The fight to be seen as an equal in the labour force continues to this day and the effort to ensure that women are safe in their working environment is still a crucial issue. The Polytechnique Massacre (December 6th, 1989) which orrcured less than 30 years ago reminds women that the old way of previewing women is still alive today
Where did These Events Occur?
I am focusing on events that occurred in America and Canada. This is because American and Canadian women in the workforce both groups had significant events that caused the other to grow. Examples being the National Councils of Women which was first established in the United States than Canada.
Why did These Events Occur?
Although there are many different types of women`s movement I believe that the labour movement occurred because women were tired of inequality. When women were forced to work in WWI they realized that they were capable of working in a man's position and once they started to work they found friends and community they wouldn't have found at home alone. It also occurred at a time when women wanted more independence from men.
A brief timeline
January 13, 2015
1851: Mary Ann Shadd forms the Anti-Slavery Society in Toronto. She also becomes known for her establishing of schools, her advocation of rights for women, and because she will be the first female law student at Howard University in Alabama.
1867:Dr. Emily Stowe graduates in medicine from New York State University, but is not allowed to practice in Canada until 1880, when she becomes registered as a member of the Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
1876:The Toronto Women’s Literary Society is founded by Dr. Emily Stowe. It is a forerunner of the major suffrage group of Canada and its name disguises its real purpose of obtaining equal rights for women
1876:The British North America Act states that "women are not persons in matters of rights and privileges".
1883:The Toronto Women’s Literary Society disbands and reorganizes as the Toronto Woman’s Suffrage Association.
1883: Augusta Stowe Gullen (daughter of Emily Stowe) is the first woman to receive a medical degree from a Canadian university.
1893:The National Council of Women of Canada is formed to coordinate the various artistic, religious, political reform, and literary associations across Canada, enabling women to speak on matters of public interest. Ishbel, Lady Aberdeen (the wife of the Earl of Aberdeen, the Governor-General) is the first president.
1894:Dr. Amelia Yeomans becomes president of the Manitoba Equal Franchise Club, the first English-speaking suffrage group formed west of Ontario. Nellie McClung initiates its educational campaign with a Mock Parliament.
1895: The Law Society of Upper Canada admits women as barristers.
1897:The Victorian Order of Nurses is set up to serve sparsely populated communities.
1900:Teaching is the only profession open to women that leads to a pension.
1900: Women are allowed to enter most forms of sport except those where bodily contact is possible.
1909:The Canadian Suffrage Organization, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and many others organize a delegation of 1000 to the Ontario Legislature on March 14. A petition of 100,000 names of people supporting suffrage is presented.
1917: September 20, the Military Voters Act extends federal enfranchisement, until the end of the war, to women in the services and to those women who had close relatives in the armed services of Canada or Great Britain.
1917: Roberta MacAdams and Louise McKinney are the first women elected to a provincial legislature, being elected to the Alberta Legislature on June 7.
1917:In April, British Columbia women are given the vote.
1917: Alberta is the first province to adopt a minimum wage law for women.
1918:On April 26, Nova Scotia women are given the right to vote and hold public office.
1916: By this time most women are working in factories to assist with the war effort
1939- To encourage women to join the labour force during World War II, child care centers and tax incentives are provided. These promptly disappeared at the end of the war while unequal pay remained.
1939-1945: Women joined traditionally male fields of employment in record numbers as part of the war effort.
1940- On April 25, Quebec women are granted the right to vote.
1967- The United Nations adopts the Declaration of Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
1973: The Ontario Advisory Council on the Status of Women is set up with Laura Sabia as chair.
1978:The Canadian Human Rights Act ensures equal pay for work of equal value. It also prohibits discrimination on grounds including sex, disability, and race.
1980: Jeanne Suave is the first woman Speaker of the House of Commons.
1989: Audrey McLaughlin, of the New Democratic Party, is the first woman federal leader of a Canadian political party.
1989: On December 6th, 14 female engineering students at the Ecole Polytechnique were massacred by a man shouting his opposition to feminism. He then committed suicide.
1990: Dr. Roberta Bondar is the first Canadian woman astronaut, being selected by NASA to participate in a flight of the space shuttle in December 1991.
1990: Kim Campbell is the first woman federal Minister of Justice. She is also attorney-general.
1990: Canada wins the first Women’s World Hockey Championship.
1990: The Supreme Court rules that battered wife syndrome is a legitimate defense against a murder charge.
Roberta McCadams: the first women to be elected into politics in 1917, she helped to influence importance decisions and legislature to ensure rights for women
Agusta Stowe: The first women to practice medicine in Canada she inspired many women to reach for jobs that had previously been held by men
Lady Aberdeen: Helped to found the Canadian National council of women she was a key player in the women's labour and movement campaign. She exerted her power on government to get the job done.
Nellie McClung: One of the most well known and influential women in the women's movement Nellie McClung worked tirelessly to bring equal rights to women in every aspect of life, focusing on things such as the right to vote, be considered persons, health care and the right to divorce.
The percentage of women who are employed has generally followed an upward trend over the past three decades, but has declined during economic downturns.
After the recession of the early 1990s, the percentage of employed women rose steadily, reaching 59.3% in 2008. In 2009, however, as the most recent labour market downturn took hold, it fell by a full percentage point in 2009 to 58.3%, representing 8,076,000 employed women. However, for women the downturn's effects on employment were less severe than for men. In 2009, the share of men who were employed dropped much more steeply, 2.9 percentage points to 65.2%, than that of women. This repeats a similar pattern seen in the previous two recessions (those of the early 1980s and early 1990s), when the percentage of women who were employed fell much less steeply than that of men.
The labour force over the decades