My name is Stéphanie Pitre, and I represent the riding of Manicouagan.
I'd like to begin my presentation with the following question. Why, in the 21st century, do men still make 29% more than women in Canada?
Successful women have to navigate a dual constraint. On the one hand, they have to behave like men in a working world built by men, and, on the other, they must remain women. Despite a strong showing in higher education, women are just as under-represented in leadership positions.
In Quebec's National Assembly, women account for less than a third of the legislature's members. Furthermore, a 2016 Leger survey revealed that only 18% of senior management positions were held by women. The main barriers associated with their lack of ambition are a lack of opportunity, a lack of self-confidence, and family obligations. When women have small children, they tend to work part-time jobs or leave the workforce for motherhood.
The income women earn is still considered supplementary, and overall, women are paid less than men. In a context where one parent has to stay home to look after the children, it makes sense for the lowest earner to stay home. Irregular work schedules and distance make the work-life balance harder for women interested in entering traditionally male-dominated occupations.
On the north shore, where I'm from, the Plan Nord strategy is widening the wage gap by creating more jobs for men.
How is it that men earn 29% more than women in the 21st century?
A society that values gender equality should put in place measures to address the gender gap in the workplace. It is an artificial gap, created by society. On the one hand, young girls are given dolls to play with, so that they can acquire the skills to raise children and take care of a family. On the other hand, young boys are given trucks to play with, promoting skills associated with the mining industry.
In a society in which the gender divide dominates the workplace, pay equity is a utopian idea. That is why I urge the government to adopt the following measures to ensure equal access to development opportunities on the north shore.
First, paternity leave should be made mandatory, in order to put an end to gender-based norms associated with the care-taking of small children.
Second, gender equality in positions of power should be promoted in the workforce.
Third, funding grants should be established to encourage women to work in male-dominated occupations, and vice versa.
All of these measures would ensure that my community's socio-economic development took women's employment and work-life balance needs into account, so that they are not dependent on their spouses.
I turned 24 this week. The best gift I, as well as all the women we will be honouring tomorrow, could ever get would be to work together to change society and adopt measures to achieve equal pay for women.