(Ottawa) – In a year that continues to be buried in challenges due to the pandemic, the federal government’s feminist response was quick and included an influx of resources but it also exposed some serious gaps when it comes to the most marginalized populations, according to a new report released by Oxfam Canada today.
Following the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 crisis, Oxfam Canada’s fifth annual Feminist Scorecard, Accelerating a Feminist COVID-19 Recovery, grades the federal government’s actions to help Canada and the world respond and recover from the pandemic between March 2020 until February 2021 in 10 policy areas. Oxfam uses a traffic light approach (red, yellow and green), indicating very little, some, or significant progress.
Three categories received a green rating this year: global development, women’s leadership and representation, and gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).
“Women have been at the forefront of Canada’s response to COVID-19 as medical officers, key ministers but also in communities ensuring relief for those who have been hardest hit. The government quickly provided resources for women’s shelters and invested in global response mechanisms. These measures are critical but more is needed to address the massive drop in women’s labour force participation – it is now the lowest in 30 years. Investments in women-majority sectors and child care will be critical to advancing gender equality and preventing an unnecessarily slow recovery,” said Diana Sarosi, Oxfam Canada’s Director of Policy and Campaigns.
The government missed the mark when it comes to taxation having shown little appetite for tax reforms to reduce inequality. Wealth inequality has grown during the pandemic, with the wealthiest Canadians, who are mostly men, benefiting from tax loopholes and not paying their fair share.
”The fortunes of the country’s 44 billionaires have increased by over $60 billion since March 2020. Despite government promises to tax extreme wealth inequality and close tax loopholes, policies that disproportionately benefit the wealthy and help corporations avoid paying their fair share of taxes persist,” Sarosi said. “A feminist recovery will rely on investments in much needed public services funded by a progressive tax system.”
The scorecard also highlights a number of policy areas where more can be done to accelerate a feminist response and ensure the most marginalized do not fall through the cracks, which include poverty, care work, humanitarian crises, work and pay equity, climate change and extractives, and ensuring the rights of Indigenous women.
“As the world moves from response to recovery, it is clear that more has to be done to ensure no one is left behind,” Sarosi said. “The government has an opportunity to strengthen its intersectional feminist analysis and build a path for recovery that ensures women in all their diversity are heard and seen as partners. This will require more women and gender-diverse people in leadership and decision-making spaces and better disaggregated data collection and analysis on the impacts of the pandemic. COVID-19 has shown us what is possible if there is political will.”
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Notes to Editors:
- Oxfam Canada’s Feminist Scorecard is available for download here.
- The scorecard does not rate the government’s overall performance in each policy area. It presents an assessment of actions that have, or have not, been taken by the government in these 10 policy areas to advance a feminist response and recovery to COVID-19.