Favorable Employment Legislation for Women in Quebec, Canada

I wanted to discuss a topic on this forum that is very popular right now in my country, Canada, and is very personal to me. The government of Quebec, one of the provinces in Canada, recently proposed a bill known as the “Charter of Quebec Values”. The minister in charge of the charter, Bernard Drainville, announced at the national assembly that if the charter were adopted by the legislature, the wearing of religious symbols (such as kippas, turbans, burkas, hijabs and "large" crosses would be banned for civil servants while they are on the job). Although this charter is indiscriminant towards gender and religion, I wanted to discuss the impact that such legislation would have on women that are passionate about their careers, and are also firm believers in their faith. I believe that such a move by the Quebec government would be counterproductive to women’s economic empowerment, as women would be forced to choose between their faith, and the right to equal employment opportunities. Being a first generation Canadian, a Muslim woman that observes the hijab, and an aspiring entrepreneur, this legislation disappoints me. If I were to be living in Quebec, I would definitely feel limited by my opportunities. Although there are many facets and perspectives to this issue, I would like to focus specifically on how this legislation impacts women. My question for you all is, how do we ensure that government legislation safeguards and protects the interests of women and allows them to pursue their careers and passions indiscriminant of their religious beliefs, ethnicity, or culture? I would especially love to hear from public policy experts on this issue.
  • Hala Bugaighis

    I totally understand your concern, such legislation only effects Muslim women who usually find better work and learning environment in the western countries, by applying such rules women would be the main victims. I might understand the concern about the Burqaa which covers the whole face for security reasons but any addition banning would be unjustifiable, discriminating and violating women rights.

    The civil society should raise the awareness and demand fair treatment for Canadian women,and explains how this will exclude women from participating in the growth of the country. 

  • Maria Pedro Miala

    I agree with you Po, there are few of of us at THE top or as policy makers and in That way we allow such decisions to be made for us, because we are underrepresented.

  • Po-Yi Liu

    I'm not a public policy expert, but I'm a Canadian as well. When I first heard about this bill, I was completely shocked. This piece of legislation violates Women's Rights and Human Rights. To exclude people - men and women - from employment because of gender, religion, or cultural background is a Human Rights issue. This move by the Quebec government is counterproductive not only to WEE but also to women's human rights and dignity.

    To ensure that government legislation safeguards and protects Women's Rights, we need legislators, policy-makers, and government leaders who can discern whether their attitudes, legislations, or policies work for or against Women's Rights and Human Rights. Having lived in Quebec, I think having the right leadership at the top is one of the keys to creating a safer society for women to work and live in.

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