10/31/2016 03:53 EDT | Updated 10/31/2016 03:54 EDT

This Will Make You Think Twice About The Global Economy


Don't think women are getting shortchanged by the global economy? This will make you think twice.

Since launching Oxfam's campaign on women and work last week, we've received all kinds of questions and comments about whether women are really being shortchanged by the global economy. Some suggest that gender inequality doesn't exist here in Canada, only in poor countries. Others say that women choose to work in different jobs or part-time, which explains why they end up with lower wages.

Let's be clear: women aren't choosing to get paid less than men. Sexism and gender norms keep them stuck at the bottom of the economic ladder.

If you're getting these kinds of questions, here are three things that show how women are getting the short end of the economic stick.

Unpaid care work is one of the biggest barriers to women's participation in the formal economy.

ONE: The wage gap exists in every profession. Yes -- even if you're a doctor.

I've been told the wage gap only exists in certain sectors and that women and men get paid exactly the same in professional settings. This chart from the Guardian bursts that bubble. Oxfam has also calculated that only nine of the world's top 62 billionaires are women -- that's definitely a clue that it doesn't necessarily get more equal for women at the top.

TWO: Time = Money, except when you're working for free

Some say women are more likely to be poor because they work less. You don't work = you don't get paid. The problem is that women are working. In fact, women's labour force participation is at an all-time high in many countries.

Across the planet women work in some of the lowest paid and most precarious jobs.

This graph from the European Commission shows that women are in fact working MORE than men. But here's the catch: a lot of that work isn't paid. If your family and community expect you to cook, clean and take care of the children and elder relatives, you're left with fewer hours to get waged employment. Unpaid care work is one of the biggest barriers to women's participation in the formal economy.

The graph looks at statistics from Europe, where there has been lots of discussion about involving men in care work. In countries like Mozambique and Senegal women can spend up to 17 hours per week doing other unpaid tasks such as collecting water.

THREE: Some jobs just pay less. The jobs women do.

Across the planet women work in some of the lowest paid and most precarious jobs. Women are consistently overrepresented in jobs that pay minimum wage. In 2013, women garment workers in Bangladesh won a hard-fought wage increase, more than doubling the minimum wage in their country to the equivalent of $68 a month.

This graph uses Bureau of Labour statistics to show how women represent the majority of low wage workers in the US. In Canada, Oxfam found that a childcare worker (97% of whom are women) makes on average $25,334 per year, while truck drivers (97% of who are male) make $45,417. These jobs require comparable levels of education and training. It goes to show that our society doesn't equally value the work women do.

Oxfam's shortchanged campaign is fighting to make work paid, equal and valued for women, everywhere. Join us and tell our government that you want to see equality. It starts here, with the 2017 federal budget. Raise your voice at

Kelly Bowden is the Manager of Campaigns at Oxfam Canada.

You can follow her @kbowds

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