High quality, accessible, affordable, inclusive childcare is important for children, but it’s also essential for care givers—particularly women—who shoulder the burden of unpaid care work.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, without access to childcare, women either take on a disproportionate share of unpaid care work in the home, balancing paid work with child care, house work, and in some cases home schooling—or they reduce their work hours, take leaves of absence from work, or leave their jobs entirely. In August, Statistics Canada reported that mothers whose youngest child was 6-17 years old were the furthest from returning to pre-pandemic employment levels.
If unpaid care work was equally distributed between people of all genders, access to childcare might not be so central to ensuring that the rights of women are respected, protected, and upheld. However, ongoing gender discrimination leads to women carrying out the bulk of unpaid care work, including childcare, making access to childcare very much a women’s rights issue in Canada.