Just thought I would respond to a comment on my last post, just to clarify what I was indeed saying by suggesting that poverty is a women’s issue. Schmengy writes:

How does this make it exclusively a “womens issue”?

Poor people come in both sexes, last time I checked.

Of course poverty is not exclusively a ‘women’s issue’. As Schmengy rightfully notes, poor people do indeed come in both sexes, and I never meant to imply otherwise with my post.

What I meant to imply was that poverty is an issue that overwhelmingly affects women and even more overwhelmingly affects immigrant women, women from visible minorities and single parent households headed by women and as such is an issue that all women should take account of and work to irradicate.

Poverty Issues for Canadian Women, a report that can be found on the Status of Women Canada website, gives some background as to how exactly Canadian women are affected by poverty:

  • Almost 1.5 million adult women were living in poverty in 2003 – the most recent year for which information is available. Among adults, aged 18 or older, women account for 54% of persons in low income.
  • Data from the 2001 Census, based on before-tax incomes in 2000, indicated 29% of visible minority women were living in poverty. While the poverty rate for all foreign-born women was 23%, women who immigrated to Canada between 1991 and 2000 had a poverty rate of 35%.
  • Women are much more likely to be poor if they are on their own without a spouse or partner. The depth of poverty of lone-parent mothers is a serious concern. For example, in 2003, the average income of the 208,000 women who were heads of lone parent families was $6,300 below the poverty line.11
  • Between 1996 and 2001, the after-tax low-income rate for female one-parent families fell from 53% to 34%. But it increased to 39% in 2002 and was down only slightly to 38% in 2003.
  • In contrast, the low-income rate for lone-parent families headed by men has dropped by half since 1996 – from 25% to 12.6% in 2003.
  • Just 8.4% of all Canadian families with two persons or more were living in poverty in 2003 and the poverty rate for non-elderly two-parent families with children was 6.6%