The Gleaner
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Are women able to make the same choices as men?

On the eve of International Women’s Day, can we really say that women are able to make the same choices as men?

The Centre d’aide et de lutte contre les agressions à caractère sexuel (CALACS) La Vigie offers a range of services to help women who have suffered sexual violence. Meeting these women and learning about their situations has allowed us to understand that the phenomenon of inflation and economic instability makes women more vulnerable in many aspects of their lives.

When a woman experiences sexual violence (one in three, according to the Institut nationale de santé publique), but leaving an abusive partner will cost over $1,200 a month for a 4½-bedroom apartment, if she finds one, she may “choose” to stay in the toxic relationship. It has also been shown that many women must fight the discrimination of certain landlords because they are relying on social assistance, are immigrants, or are single parents.

According to the Institut de la statistique du Québec, nearly 60 per cent of women are paid minimum wage, compared with 40 per cent of men. Women also tend to work fewer hours per week because of family responsibilities. So, women’s income is still well below that of men. This too underlies the difficult choices women must make to ensure their security and well-being.

CALACS also notes that many of the women who come to see us are very deeply affected by food insecurity. They frequently mention that choices must be made between gassing up the car, buying clothes for the children, or putting food on the table.

When it comes to healthcare, the current economic situation is also affecting women in need of mental health services. According to a survey by GreenShield and Mental Health Research Canada, 42 per cent of women who needed care between 2022 and 2023 did not receive any services. The survey showed that limited financial capacity was the reason, compared with 21 per cent of men in a similar situation.

March 8 is fast approaching. It is a time to reflect, again in 2024, on the significant gap that exists between the realities of women and men across many aspects of life. Let’s hope that women will be able to make real “choices” in the future.
Isabelle Corbeil,
General manager CALACS La Vigie

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