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Poverty among Women and Aboriginals Essay

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Updated: Nov 9th, 2019


There is no conventionally agreed definition of poverty within the Canadian government but the federal government and social policy analysts only use national statistics on low income as the parameter to measure the incidence and depth of poverty. This essay seeks to briefly discuss why the Aboriginal people and women in Canada are more susceptible to poverty.

Women and Poverty in Canada

Women and poverty in Canada are closely linked because of several reasons; key among these reasons is the structural factors which work together to ensure that women become more vulnerable to poverty. The adoption of a different model or economy which involved cutting down of social services has worsened the income level of the low income segment of the population.

Despite signing and ratifying of international agreements like the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), there still exists a limited guarantee to effect the protection of women rights in the country (Marika 1).

Women are also victims of poverty in several other ways which are dependent on issues of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and linguistic background. The categories of women experiencing poverty are: those women who raise families single handedly or rather families that are headed by women, senior or aged women, single women, immigrant women, migrant women and those women who suffer from particular forms of disability (Marika 1).

The following are the factors that contribute to the poverty of women: First is the gender related roles; this is whereby women are only restricted to household roles. At some instance women are supposed to forfeit their jobs or they may refuse job promotions in order to take care of their children whereas men are not permitted to do that.

This has the negative impact on the wages of women or on the accumulation of pensions. Consequently, majority of the women only perform part time employment. Household chores is not factored in on human development index or in the computation of poverty index, hence the assumption that women are poor (Marika 1).

Furthermore women are paid low wages for their work; most of the women work is supposed to be free like the caring of children, the elderly and the disabled. These jobs are not considered valuable or skill based hence attracts small pay (Marika 1).

Aboriginal Poverty in Canada

Just like women, aboriginal people also suffer from poverty. The causes of this poverty are the lack of education, cultural destruction, unemployment and discrimination and traditional beliefs.

Lack of education: limited or lack of education means that the aboriginal people are geographically isolated which has the impact of disadvantaging them when compared to the urban communities. Low or no education at all makes the aboriginal people unable to secure high paying jobs that can support their families (Hoeppner 161).

Destruction of culture and rootedness of traditional beliefs: the cultural background of the aboriginal people has diminished. It is estimated that small number of aboriginal people can speak their native language. Consequently, their traditional skills like that of hunting and trapping have become irrelevant in the modern technological world. Single parentages are becoming common in the aboriginal population (Hoeppner 161).

Discrimination: there is widespread discrimination against the aboriginal in Canada. This discrimination is evidenced in the field of employment and culture. The aboriginals are stereotyped as lazy and less intelligent people than other communities due to their lack of education and unemployment. In the urban areas, for example, the aboriginals are denied access into apartments because of their reputation of not paying rents (Hoeppner 161).

Unemployment: this is considered the main reason for the poverty among the aboriginals is linked to their culture or the nature of the society. Aboriginals lack the skills that are required to obtain a decent job.

The poverty of women and the aboriginals in Canada has become a major concern to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. This organization rated the welfare of Canadian woman as too low and the matter and negligence by the government which has led to the frequent murder of Aboriginals (Hoeppner 161).

Role of Government

Formulation of policies and programs: the government has formulated policies and programs that help alleviate poverty. These policies include child and family benefits, employment benefits and the special benefits for those faced by any form of marginalization like women and people with disabilities (Hoeppner 63).

The formulation of campaign 2000 has made considerable progress in fighting of legislation that will enable Canada to effectively combat the poverty menace. Consequently, there should be strong coordination between the federal departments and other agencies that work on different parts of the country in the battle to alleviate poverty.

The fight against poverty has been decentralized; this is evidenced by the presence of Ontario’s poverty reduction plan, the Quebec’s action plan which presents the aboriginal people as vulnerable group. The government should also endeavor to provide training and employment opportunities to the aboriginals and women in order to empower them (Hoeppner 173).


It is evident that better access to health care, unemployment or assistance, universal education and good distribution of resources plays a significant role in the fight against poverty. The poverty of the aboriginals and women is largely linked to their exclusion from the labor market, ownership of property and delinking from mainstream social relations.

Works Cited

Hoeppner, Candice. Federal poverty reduction plan: working in partnership towards reducing poverty in Canada; Report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. PARL, 2010. Web. <>

Marika, Morris. Women and Poverty. ICREF, 2011. Web. <>

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