Women still outnumber men in jobs associated with providing care,1 counselling and services. They work in early childhood educational services, health and social services, schools and community organizations, to name but a few.
At present, women and men in these female-dominated jobs are on the front lines as we grapple with this pandemic due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and are at increased risk of becoming infected.
Past crises, such as the 1918 influenza pandemic, have led to some recognition of the work done by women in Québec society.
Whether they were nurses, nuns or volunteers, women played a significant role in caring for the sick in those dark times. People spoke of “female heroism,” paying tribute to their bravery, their admirable dedication and their unparalleled zeal.2
Ever-present “guardian angels”
Today, these workers are called “guardian angels.” But in fact, they have always been our society’s guardian angels.
At any given time, these individuals carry out work that is crucial to the well-being and survival of every one of us. Whether by providing early childhood educational services, the first link of our education system, healthcare services, through which we have access to quality professional services, the education network, training the young adults of tomorrow, or community organizations, which underpin our social safety net, the work of these women and men is, and has always been, vital to our society.
In this coronavirus pandemic period, there is greater recognition for the colossal and essential work done day in and day out by these women and men. As we emerge from this crisis, let us hope that this recognition will endure and that the true value of the work these individuals do every day will b recognized, at last.
1 “Care” or “caregiving” covers any work or job that involves concepts of attention, care, responsibility, thoughtfulness, mutual assistance, etc.
2 FAHRNI, Magda (2004). “Elles sont partout… : les femmes et la ville en temps d’épidémie”, Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française, [Online], vol. 58, no 1, p. 67-68. [erudit.org/fr/revues/haf/2004-v58-n1-haf865/010973ar.pdf].