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Womens Rights Essay, Research Paper

The desire of women to be viewed and treated on an equal level to their male

counterparts is not new, the women?s movement has been growing for many generations,

swelling rapidly since the 1800?s specifically. The goal of the women?s rights movement,

for the most part, is quite reasonable, they would like to see equal pay for the same work

as their male co-workers, and they would like to see affirmative action encouraged in

hiring policies, both in the public and private sectors. The women?s movement is not

without it?s absurdity though, with ridiculous demands such as mandatory daycare

provided by employers and pension for housewives once they reach the age of 65.

Generally speaking however the women?s rights movement is necessary and should be met

with open arms.

In order to understand the issues associated with the women?s movement one must

look at the history of women?s suffrage. For most of history women have been second

class citizens, relegated to traditional tasks such as child rearing and other tasks within the

home.(Boyer, 580) In the past women were considered to be property of their husbands

or fathers, as a matter of fact, in the early days of confederation, if a women was raped or

murdered it was considered a property crime, and not a crime against the state.(Boyer

581) In Canada women were not considered people under the law, they could not vote,

her property was not recognized under the law, and they could not be involved in politics

in general.(Guy 334) However during this time period the suffrage movement was gaining

widespread popularity all over North America, the public become aware of the problems

faced by women, due in part to the tragic triangle shirtwaist fire,(Boyer 617) this began to

lean public favor to the side of the suffragettes. The desire of Canadian women to be

treaty equally came to the forefront in 1929, when a group of women from Calgary took

the famous ?peoples case? before the British Privy Council. The Privy Council ruled in

favor of the women and from that time on women in Canada could hold political office,

vote and hold property.(Guy 334) This paved the way for the women?s rights movement

as we know it today

A key element within the women?s rights movement is that of rights within the

workplace, meaning pay equity and the chance to move up the corporate ladder. One

often stated statistic within the women?s movement has to do with pay equity, it is said

that women, on average, earn only 74 cents for every one dollar a man makes.(Evans 257)

Obviously there is a need for change, but it is not as simple as legislation, discrimination is

embedded in the very structure of organizations, it manifested itself in recruitment,

employment practices, and job training. These are the reasons why women are constantly

condemned to such traditional positions such as nursing, secretarial work and

childcare.(evans 312) In 1999 the Seattle Times published several articles on women?s

rights, and whether or not it was having a noticeable affect on hiring practices. The Times

looked at two of Seattles largest companies, namely Boeing and Microsoft, and

discovered how many women each employed in their top ranking positions. The numbers

that were published proved to be shocking, with both companies employing an average of

only 21.35% women within their high ranking positions. This type of study shows the

obvious need for some type of reform. We have seen examples in the media of late which

shows that the government is attempting to rectify these inequalities, one such example is

their recent pay out to women who worked at Revenue Canada and received lower pay

for doing the same job as their male co-workers. However it is my belief that solutions to

these problems cannot be solved by the implementing of government regulations within

the private sectors, which except in severe instances is only a negative occurrence, rather

through education, both of the current realm of management, and the younger males who

will be the next wave to enter the workforce.

The women?s rights movement is not without its idiocies however, such as the

desire to have mandatory daycare established by companies for their employees, another

foolish idea is the aspiration to have the government pay a pension to housewives, in

addition to their old age pension.(Evans 219) The idea of having daycare?s within offices

is not new and is practiced, however forcing companies to install such facilities through

legislation is not the answer. It is said that if a company provides such services they will

be able to draw a wider talent base and therefore increase profit, though if this were true,

in a free enterprise system such as ours, the companies that willfully implemented these

ideals would succeed, while those who choose not to would in turn fail. Another problem

with this notion is that of responsibility, why should it be up to the employer to care for

his workers children, certainly he wasn?t involved in the decision to have the child in the

first place, yet it is a good idea to make him care for it? Further the issue of pension for

housewives is a farce, a person who spends the days ?working? within the home, someone

who earns no money themselves, therefore not paying into any pension plan period, should

be entitled to not only one pension, but two? perhaps we should also pay them an hourly

wage for the housework that they do perform, possibly we could even add them to the

beuracracy. Let us not forget a women who is employed must complete the same chores

as housewives, if anyone should receive such extra benefits it should be a person who

actually contributes to the pot rather then simply emptying it. With such misguided ideals

as those listed above it is easy to see why there is an opposition to the women?s equality

movement, which otherwise should be embraced.

One of the more important elements that comprises the women?s rights movement

is that of affirmative action. Affirmative action was born of the civil rights movement four

decades ago, affirmative action calls for minorities and women to be given special

consideration in employment, education and contracting decisions. Institutions with

affirmative action policies generally set goals, and timetables for increased diversity, and

use recruitment, set asides and preference as ways of achieving these goals. In its modern

form affirmative action can call for an admissions officer faced with two similarly qualified

applicants to choose the minority over the white, or for a manager to recruit and hire a

qualified woman for a job rather then a man. Affirmative action decisions are generally

not supposed to be based on quotas, nor are they supposed to give any preference to

unqualified candidates, and they are not supposed to harm through ?reverse

discrimination?.(Comptons) There is an obvious need for affirmative action, to verify this

all one needs to do is review the examples of women employed within fortune 500

companies. Mobil, for example, employees only one female officer versus 112 men.

Another example can be seen when one looks at Dupont, who has zero female officers and

29 men in these positions.(Seattle times) These statistics illustrate the need for some type

of policies that address these problems. This was addressed in Canada in 1982 with the

creation of the charter of rights and freedoms, which attempted to see to the fact that

there would be no discrimination within the workplace, unfortunately there has been little

or no enforcement of this laws and as a result the equality movement has decayed to the

levels evident in the aforementioned statistics.(Evans 200) If this trend is to change the

government needs to strongly enforce their laws, and see too it that these injustices are

avoided at all costs

One very plausible way to create change in this current trend is to have a stronger

female presence in our government, the reason being that if we had a strong female

representation they would enact legislation and policies that would further the women?s

movement.(Tremblay 173) This concept is excellent due to the fact that it is totally

democratic, it will gauge public opinion and implement policy based upon it. The problem

with this however is women getting the opportunity, there is seldom an even number of

candidates of each sex within the political parties, and often when women are given a

riding it is one where the party has little to no hope of winning.(Tremblay 192) However

there have been a few notable exceptions such as Kim Campbell, who became Canada?s

first female Prime Minister. If a change is made to allow women greater access to the

political arena it could prove to be a stepping stone that may eventually lead to equality

and in turn put both sexes on an equal basis.

The issue of women?s rights is a complicated one, the issues date back many

generations and will likely continue to be fought over for many years to come. It is clear

that things such as pay equality and affirmative action need to be addressed and the

problems of each do need to be rectified, however if the movement is to be a complete

success it needs to rid itself of such misguided ideals as mandatory childcare and a pension

for housewives. If the fat gets cut form the women?s rights movement, and the emphasis

is put on education rather then legislation, the public will embrace it and it will succeed.

?Affirmative Action.?Compton?s Interactive Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. N.p.: Compton?s

New Media, Inc. 1994

Boyer, Paul S., et al.The Enduring Vision. 4th ed. Boston: Houghton, 2000

Evans, Patricia M.Women and the Canadian Welfare State. Toronto, University Press


Guy, James JohnPeople, Politics and government-A Canadian Perspective. 4th ed.

Ontario, Prentice-Hall, 1998

Seatlle TimesAffirmative Action Sept 1999

Trembley, ManonWomen and Political Representation in Canada. Ottawa, University

press, 1997

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