Marginalized communities were most impacted by the effects of COVID-19, so their recoveries must be prioritized as we look to restore the economy post pandemic, a new report suggests.
The report, released earlier this week, was co-authored by the Institute for Gender and the Economy at University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and YWCA Canada.
COVID-19 has had significant impacts on women, Two-Spirit, and gender-diverse people, particularly those who are low-income; living with disabilities; part of the LGBTQ+, Indigenous, Black, and/or racialized communities; or newcomers, refugees, immigrants, and migrants, according to the report.
Entitled "A Feminist Economic Recovery Plan for Canada: Making the Economy Work For Everyone," the report’s topline message is that recovery will not not possible if women, Two-Spirit, and gender-diverse people are left behind.
"If we look at the impact from a health and economic standpoint, it is disproportionately on those with intersecting identities," Sarah Kaplan, director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy and professor of strategic management at Rotman, told the Canadian Press. "You wouldn’t be able to have an economic recovery without paying attention to who is impacted and why."
Among the information outlined in the report is the fact that the employment rate for Canadian women aged 25 to 54 declined twice as much as it did for men. Black, racialized, and immigrant women are also more likely to hold jobs such as personal support workers, cleaners, and other essential occupations — often low-paid and without paid leave — meaning they were forced to put their health at risk during the pandemic or else suffer financial losses. Women have also experience increased domestic violence due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
In order to recover, the report suggests that governments, businesses, and charities look at policy plans that address systemic racism, focus on good jobs, protect victims of domestic violence, enhance funding for small businesses, and encourage diversity in decision-making processes.
"Without attention to inequity in post-pandemic recovery, a potential decline in our achievements is a real threat, given the gendered economic, health, and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic across all aspects of society," the report’s foreword reads.
Some of the more in-depth suggestions include increasing wages for child care workers and adding paid sick days and family leave for all workers, while others look at tackling anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, as well as homelessness.
"Many people long to 'get back to normal,' but the pandemic has made clear that the old 'normal' was not good for everyone,” the report said.
Moving forward, the focus needs to be on intersectional feminism.
"You cannot talk about issues that impact women without [talking about] race or disability ... A lot of the people who were most likely to lose their jobs were women or women of colour," Kaplan told CP. "With economic plans, we think about investing in infrastructure. Now we need to invest in social infrastructure, to improve lives for women who work in those services."