Pioneer and Always Committed to Women
In Quebec, until the adoption of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms in 1976, a woman did not have the same legal rights as a man. Their career and occupation opportunities were limited by mores and values that have gradually changed. It was also this same year that the JCCM welcomed its first president: Roxanne Piché. 20 years earlier, in 1956, the JCCM was one of the first Junior Chambers in North America to open its doors to women.
During the 1980s, there was an increase in the number of women in senior executive roles. Within the JCCM, this trend is noticeable in particular by the continuous increase in the number of women within its membership. Today, 56% of JCCM's members are women.
That being said, the social acceptability of an "ambitious" woman is long overdue. Even today, they face disproportionate challenges and criticism, particularly in the digital age.
Persistent economic inequity
Throughout history, women and men have been differently exposed to risks and constraints during social or economic crises. The pandemic has increased, among other things, the burden of unpaid care, which is borne disproportionately by women. According to a report by the Royal Bank of Canada published in 2021, the presence of women in the labor market has declined to such an extent that it regressed to the participation rate of the 1980s.
Quebec's Conseil du statut de la femme estimates that the number of women active in the labor market fell by 27,000 from 2019 to 2020, a much more marked drop than among men (-17,000). The situation is such that the number of men active in the labor market in 2021 (2,410,000) is higher than it was in 2019 (2,392,000), while the number of women active in 2021 (2 138,000) remains below the level observed in 2019 (2,150,000).
An important fact pointed out by Louise Champoux-Paillé, executive in residence at Concordia University's John Molson School of Business in this article, Canadian women from generation Z (aged in their twenties) represented only 2.5% of the work force during this period, but suffered 17% of job losses. It is reasonable to think that this situation will have a lasting impact in years to come.
Celebrate progress, but remain vigilant
Following current socio-economic changes, it is important to work for an inclusive, responsible and sustainable economic recovery. Women stand to lose both in terms of parity and in terms of economic benefits – the "new normal" must be an exception and not a new starting point.
Interventions to facilitate women's economic participation must also address broader societal aspects of gender inequalities, for example, the lack of opportunities in remote areas away of urban centers or violence against women, which has reached alarming levels in Quebec over the past year.
To be honest, it is very difficult for me to know what is attributable in my career to being a young person, a woman, a black woman or an entrepreneur. When I take a step back, what these words have in common is this feeling, this strength that lives within me, of being born at the right time. To have the chance to see around me the doors that open, the glass ceilings that explode and the opportunities that are offered to those who dare to dream about them.