Chapter 7: Women’s Health and the Politics of Poverty and Exclusion
Women’s Poverty in Canada
−In Canada, more than half of single-parent households with children have incomes
below the poverty level.
−In Canada, the term low income refers to low-income cut-offs (LICOs) identified
by Statistics Canada. These cut-offs define low income in relative terms, based on
the percentage of income that individuals and families spend on the basic needs of
food, clothing, and shelter in comparison with other Canadians.
−LICO is a consistent and well-defined method that identifies those who are
substantially worse off than the average, people spend too much of their money for
food, shelter, and clothing, based on their family size and where they live.
−More women than men likely to experience deprivation, but women experience
−15% of all families are lone-parent and more than 5/6th of them are headed by
−Older women are still more likely to be economically disadvantaged than their male
−The main causes of women’s poverty are labour market inequities, domestic
circumstances and welfare systems, also women are working increasingly part time,
temporary, or contract employment which offer little financial security
−Women’s poverty occurs as a consequence of the complex interplay of such factors
as divorce and separation, as well as women’s roles as mothers, homemakers, and
−Women perform two-thirds of unpaid caregiving work in Canada.
−Measures of family income say little about the distribution of resources within a
−Male-female equity cannot be assumed in intra-household decision-making and
allocation of resources
Poverty and Women’s Health
−One of the most pervasive and enduring observations in public health is the
gradient of health which can be pictured as a line on a graph that remains
consistent across gender, age groups, cultural groups, countries, and diseases and
it shows that people who have the lowest socio-economic status (SES)
experience the highest rates of mortality and morbidity.
−SES is a composite measure that typically incorporates economic status, measured
by income, social status, measured by education, and work status, measured by
−SES has its effect on health through material and psychological pathways
−Research also suggests that more egalitarian societies that is societies with smaller
differences in income between rich and poor tend to have better health
−Generally health improves with each increment in the social hierarchy, and this
pattern hold for most causes of morbidity and mortality, although for women the
trend is less consistent