Vicky Mochama: The voice of Metro News.
Vicky Mochama: Budget's investment in women is not ideological fluff
Because women are getting a slightly larger share of the Government Money Pie, some dismiss an historic investment in women, writes Vicky Mochama.
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With the Liberal government's third budget, we're promised a series of investments for women and for families.
Budget 2018 aims much of its feminist force at ensuring the participation of women in the workforce and to getting them into higher paying jobs. It announces a plan — but no price tag — on pay equity legislation, and a rule insisting on pay equity for federal contractors bidding for contracts over $1 million. Men also get a cash gift: For $1.2 billion over five years and $345 million each year after, it adds an incentive for non-birth parents to take five weeks of paid parental leave.
And yet, because women are getting a slightly larger share of the Government Money Pie, some dismiss an historic investment in women as ideological fluff.
In fact, the National Post's Andrew Coyne did exactly that, describing gender-based analyses as "ideological cant and bureaucratic busywork" and the idea of pay equity as "fantastic anti-economics". (We'll ignore, for the moment, that he also described feminists as one of a set of "Liberal client groups and policy cults" that includes environmentalists and official language groups. Tag yourself. I'm a policy cult.)
Thinking of all genders when it comes to national spending plans is neither ideological nor fluffy. Countries from Uganda to South Korea filter economic choices through a gender perspective, and major institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank include gender budgeting in their multi-trillion dollar decisions.
Done properly, the intent is to get a clear understanding of how all genders cash in — or don't — from their government. For example, Mexico City found in a gender analysis of its spending plans, the city could make financial choices that improve women's overall safety on public transportation. Similarly, if you've traversed Canada's public transportation systems with a kid in tow, you would conclude that all infrastructure spending should have a Stroller Score. But none of the men — and they were all men — who've served as finance minister have thought of insisting on a Pram Plan.
Arriving at work is hard enough only to find out you're being paid less.
As much progress as this budget heralds, it's important to note what it won't do for women. As Kate McInturff of the Centre for Policy Alternatives writes, "Women living in low income will continue to struggle. Indigenous and racialized women and women with disabilities will still see bigger gaps in pay and employment than white women." For women whose lives are at the intersections, this budget is not making it rain.
Dismissing the concerns of those groups or the gains of some women is the kind of thinking that has left women underpaid and overworked, men tired and distant, and politics as the territory of the columnist classes.