Letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail responding to For the free, educated and affluent, welcome to the century of women (March 8, 2010)
To read the original article, click here.
Wente’s argument that all western women have made it and enjoy full equality ignores the reality of many Canadian women who are not, as Wente suggests in her title, “The free, educated and affluent.”
For many Canadian and Western women; free, educated and affluent are not words that could describe their experience. The stats confirm what women can tell you themselves; inequality is real.
Wente claims we are free, while so many are still abused and raped. Canadian women are 4 times more likely to be murdered by their partner than men, and our Aboriginal sisters continue to go missing and are killed without outrage or action.
Wente argues we are educated, but ignores the barriers to access education. Young people from the poorest 20% of Canadian families are less than half as likely to enrol in university as the richest 20%, and for aboriginal children who have $3000/student less in funding for basic education than non-aboriginal kids, Wente’s argument could not be further from the truth.
For affluent women, equality has always been closer to their reach. For women who enjoy that privilege of economic independence and stability, life is not so bad.
However, Wente has blinded herself to the economic disparity that has deepened over the last thirty years in this country. Women are the new face of poverty; single parent homes headed by women face high poverty rates, in part due to more unstable and underpaid part-time work and lack of access to affordable housing.
Wente’s article has a point; for women who are free, educated and affluent, equality and opportunity have never been better. But that leaves one question to be asked… who are these women? Because a lot of us have been left out.
Brenda Wallace, CFUW National President