ParityYEG Board Members
Written by Ann Gordon-Tighe
A few weeks ago, the Alberta Government launched an Economic Recovery Panel to respond to the economic downturn our province is facing. The group includes members like former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and business leaders from across the province. Of the twelve members on the panel, just two are women.
While we know people across the board are being hit hard by the impacts of unemployment and changes to childcare situations due to COVID-19, the United Nations is already waving a warning flag about the economic consequences this downturn will have on women. As of 2017, 12.8% of Albertan women were employed in retail, an area where more women are employed than men and that we know is suffering in this downturn. The other two dominant areas of employment for women were healthcare and education, both of which are facing funding cuts and job losses. It should be noted that neither healthcare nor the retail industry are represented on the Economic Recovery Panel.
Women will be and already are disproportionately affected by job losses resulting from COVID-19, and not just because of the industries they work in. As families across the province struggle to rebalance domestic responsibilities with the loss of childcare options and school access, we know women will bear the brunt of those impacts. Domestic violence has also spiked under the stay-at home measures; along with many other negative impacts, domestic violence affects women’s ability to find and retain stable employment.
The COVID-19 crisis has been difficult for many people, across many different sectors of employment and identity, and those people will need different things out of a plan for diversification and recovery. That’s why it’s vital that their needs are represented on panels like this one.
We call on Status of Women Minister Leela Aheer and the members of this Panel to advocate for additions to its membership to ensure women’s labour realities are reflected in the decisions of the Panel.
Women are almost 50% of the province’s population, and women are on the front lines of responding to this crisis – we deserve more than 16% representation on a Panel that will be influential in shaping the future of our province’s economy.