A year into the pandemic, what losses in gender equality need to be addressed?

This March marked about a year since the first COVID-19 lockdowns in Canada, and it’s been a devastating journey for so many women, girls, and gender-diverse people in Canada. We’ve seen a rise in the risk of gender-based violence, job losses that are devastating to women’s economic security, women weighed down with care responsibilities, and overloaded women-focused community programs struggling to meet the increased needs.

Here’s what the past year looked like from a gendered lens. It’s more crucial now than ever before that we make moves for gender justice.

  • March 2020: Women account for 63% of the 1 million jobs lost and 70% of losses by workers aged 25 to 54 (Statistics Canada).

  • April 2020: 1 in 10 women reports being very or extremely concerned about the possibility of violence in the home. Women’s shelters and organizations sound alarms (Statistics Canada). Women’s labour force participation dips to 55% for the first time since the mid-80s (RBC Economics).

  • May 2020: University-educated immigrant women experience the largest unemployment rates, 7.3 percentage points higher than previous year (Statistics Canada).

  • June 2020: Calls for police service related to domestic disturbances increase by 12% between March and June (Statistics Canada).

  • July 2020: The gap between fathers and mothers going back to work goes from 0.8 to 7.3 percentage points for parents of school-aged children (Canadian Public Policy).

  • August 2020: 63% of people in Canada are concerned about women facing more exposure to COVID-19 due to work in high-risk service and care industries (Canadian Women’s Foundation).

  • September 2020: 71% of Canadian women report feeling more anxious, depressed, isolated, overworked or ill because of increased unpaid care work caused by COVID-19 (Oxfam).

  • October 2020: Shelters and transition houses experience a 61% increase in calls from June to October (Women’s Shelters Canada).

  • November 2020: A 55% jump is reported in the number of mothers who worked less than half their usual hours, when compared to the previous year. Childcare responsibilities are cited as a key reason (Statistics Canada).

  • December 2020: The unemployment rate for women of colour rises to 10.5% compared with 6.2% for white women (Statistics Canada).

  • January 2021: Women are more likely to report their mental health as bad or very bad, especially between the ages of 18- 34 (Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies).

  • February 2021: 10 times more women than men have fallen out of the labour force since last year (RBC Economics).

  • March 2021: Research shows 160 women and girls killed by violence in 2020. More data is needed, but this rise from 2019 is a red flag (Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability).