Beyond the gift of self

Au-delà du don de soi

Photo: Valérian Mazataud The Duty
The majority are women who work in the health facilities and in NURSING homes.

It took two months before Quebec provides a financial incentive significant to the health staff comprised mainly of women. Since the day 1, the women in Quebec are at the front line : in hospitals, NURSING homes, but also as cashiers, educators, and soon to be teachers. The conditions that are imposed — both the level of wages and their working conditions — are far from reflecting the risk to which they expose themselves. The question, therefore, arises : the government would have treated it the same way groups of professionals composed primarily of men ?

The issue is delicate, and the answer certainly nuanced. And this tweet published by François Legault in 2012 — “The girls attach less importance to salary than the boys” — actually back up to the surface many questions.

Here, as elsewhere, the government is relying on the dedication and sense of duty of nurses and clerks to galvanize his “guardian angels” (or rather, should we say its “angels guardians” to reflect the proper place of women ?). In the not so distant past, the québec government did not hesitate to untie quickly the power of the purse to encourage the police during the crisis student, or even the editors of the line during the ice storm to remain at the front in conditions admittedly difficult.

Beyond the prints, the jobs held by women involve a greater exposure to the virus? Response chart.

In the present crisis, the government has opted instead for a ban to take a vacation or even a requirement to work many weekends in a month, or even the night to ensure retention of the staff of the health and the very limited until Thursday, to a bonus of 8 % of salaries, which has resulted in some instances by a negligible increase on payroll often famished.

For granted

“It is as if the society and governments were taking women for granted “, said Françoise David, who was the president of the Fédération des femmes du Québec from 1994 to 2001, then member of solidarity at the national Assembly. These trades are historically genrés, she says. “And it is as if collectively, we would accept the idea that it is normal for women to be at the front all year long to take care of the elderly, the sick, the children, etc “

Women — we well know — took care of the other. And it is often a greater gift of self that their expertise is valued and recognized. “It’s always the same thing, the relationship using the person — what women have always done in history — has never been paid for at its fair value “, leading in turn to Louise Harel, a former minister of the parti québecois, which has been adopted in 1996 the Law on pay equity.

The dashboard on the evolution of the coronavirus in Quebec, in Canada and in the world

“But I don’t see how we could imagine that this could be different if men were doing this work, because the fact is that they don’t [mostly] “, in particular because of the low wages which there are multiples, points out Louise Harel.

And several counter-examples exist, note Françoise David. The trash collectors, delivery drivers, and workers in slaughterhouses or still in the field are also difficult working conditions, despite the increased risk to which they are exposed.

The social position

“The question of genre is there, we can’t eliminate it, but this is not the only determinant”, also analyzes Pascale Dufour, professor, department of political science of the University of Montreal, specializing in feminist studies.

There is also the question of the social position, she believes. “If we tried to impose this type of action to men of more privileged position in terms of social status, for example specialist doctors, of course they would not be doing it. But not only because they are men, but also because they are men in positions of power. “

The ability of reaction must also be taken into account, consider the three caregivers interviewed. “As women are very present in the essential services, their right to strike is often virtually non-existent “, says Françoise David. A power of revolt, which will turn off even more in times of crisis and that is all the more difficult to claim when the rhetoric is focused on the ” take care “.

“We use a lot [this rhetoric] for the profession of teacher but also vis-à-vis nurses — tell them that they are taking care of someone else, it is to tell them you’re not going to let down those people,” points out Pascale Dufour.

The current situation does not therefore, stems not only from the variable of the genre, even if it is present. And perhaps the idea has also made her way quietly : for women, a part of the recognition goes in terms of better pay…


A virus “gender-specific”?

If the virus kills more men on the rest of the planet, it is quite different in Quebec, where the enemy tiny has so far reaped the lives of more women and caused more infection in women.

As of the date of 5 may, 54 % of people carried away by the COVID-19 in Quebec were women and they accounted for 64 % of the infected individuals, compared to 38.7 % of men. Same portrait in Canada, where 53% of the victims of the disease were women and 55 % of infected persons (cases), and in much larger proportion in some age groups.

A unique situation. In France and elsewhere, it is the opposite. The public Health of France established at 55 % the percentage of males among the deaths of the COVID-19, between 16 march and 26 April, with a median age of 84 years. In Italy, in march, no less than 70 % of the deaths were beset in men and 73 % of reported cases.

This is where it all began, in China, that the aspect of “gender-specific” of the virus had first been reported, with 63.5 % of the deaths involving men, a death rate equivalent to 1.7 % for women, compared to 2.8% among men.

The same trend in the United States where two times more men than women trépassent of the COVID-19 to date. The virus has claimed the lives of men and women in 69 % of cases in western Europe in general, according to the BBC.

Quid ?


If several studies link this cleavage in front of the disease to genetic differences explaining an immune response which differs according to sex, a myriad of data socio-demographics influence the profile of the deaths, and still more that of the reported cases, highly dependent on the policies of screening.

In Quebec, the excess mortality of women stems among others from the fact that 60 % of the 80 years and older and up to 80 percent of the 95-year-old are women, two age groups, accounting for 74% of deaths to date. Women live longer, with the result that they end more often their lives in these circles of life where the epidemic has soared.

The screening is a priority of the residents in NURSING homes, staff, and workers essential, mainly female, explains the greater exposure of women to the virus. The death of four health care workers to remind us. (A man doctor also died of the COVID-19). A situation that could repeat itself when the teacher and early childhood, heavily female, will gradually return to work as of may 11.

Isabelle Paré

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