“[I]t should not surprise anyone to learn that the women of this country are particularly vulnerable to the hazards of being poor” (1970 Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, Women and Poverty, Chapter 6, p. 309).
“The specific situation of women in poverty was an unexpectedly significant finding in our investigation. We believe it has merited separate attention” (1970 Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, Women and Poverty, Chapter 6, p. 331).
Women’s economic inequality and its relationship to the traditional family and women’s role as wife/mother was central to much of the feminist activism during the 1970s to the1990s. Access to reproductive choice and childcare or opening doors to workplace equality; ending gender-based violence and breaking down barriers in education; calling for wages for housework and demanding pension and divorce reform – in these and many other issues, it was clear that socially enforced economic inequality, dependence, and vulnerability undermined women’s ability to make substantive personal choices and social change.
At the same time, organizing by racialized, immigrant, Indigenous women; lesbians; women with disabilities; and others disputed one-size-fits-all understandings of “women’s” economic inequality and family structures. Over this period, their challenges helped shape a more complex feminist understanding of multiple oppressions and how these intersected with gender-based discrimination to exacerbate economic and other injustice.
Feminist activism on issues of gender-based economic inequality and injustice can be seen in a wide range of materials and publications throughout the Rise Up archive. This section of the archive, however, is intended for items more directly focused on women living in poverty and how this impacts their lives and their children, regarding issues of housing, social services, health, aging, education, justice, and intersectional oppression.