Decent Work for Women

Decent Work

Pensions  |  Bill 148  |  Decent Work for Women

Decent Work for Women

Decent work for women working in our sector

The Ontario nonprofit sector is a critical part of the province’s social, economic and political fabric. Fifty-five thousand organizations generate over $50 billion in economic impact for the province, while a labour force of over 1 million people serves a wide range of communities across the province.

We know that the sector differs from others as it has its own set of unique challenges – such as resource constraints, a tightened regulatory environment, changing demographics, and a complex sector narrative – that significantly impact employment in the sector. ONN’s ChangeWork report sheds light on the reality of job precarity and insecurity, lack of access to benefits and pensions, underinvestment in training and development and uncompetitive wages in the sector. Over the past year ONN has been building a decent work movement in the sector to address these issues.

We also know anecdotally that approximately 80% of the sector’s labour force is made up of women. However, little research exists on the specific experiences of women working in the sector, particularly Indigenous, marginalized and racialized women. In other words, how do ‘glass ceilings’, ‘leaky pipelines’ (women disappearing from the career ladder at some point), the gender wage gap and precarious work coupled with the sector’s unique challenges manifest and impact different women in the nonprofit labour force?

Given these critical intersections, it is time to develop a deeper understanding of the role(s) women play in Ontario’s nonprofit sector.

The Project

ONN has received funding from Status of Women Canada for a three-year project that to apply a GBA+ lens (gender based intersectional analysis) to:

  1. Identify barriers to women workers’ economic empowerment and prosperity in the nonprofit sector
  2. Develop and implement pilot solutions to address these barriers at the organizational, network and policy levels

The data and information collected, lessons learned and project successes will be documented and shared with the Ontario nonprofit sector throughout the project. The project is informed by an advisory council of diverse members, a community of practice that represents the project at the national Gender Equality Network Canada, project partners and other relevant local, provincial and national stakeholders.  Key activities include a literature review, focus groups and a survey, prioritizing barriers and themes and piloting and implementing collaborative strategies for change.

Some initial key questions we plan to address:

  • How can intentionally harnessing different perspectives of women working in the nonprofit sector help us identify challenges and solutions related to their economic empowerment?
  • How can we create solutions that address the experiences of diverse women working in the nonprofit sector?
  • Do barriers differ based on different regions and subsectors in the province?
  • What is the relationship between decent work for women working in the nonprofit sector and the sector’s funding models?
  • What shifts in understandings need to happen to move the needle on women’s economic empowerment in the sector? (e.g the charity model, unpaid work, care work, women’s work)

Who are the stakeholders?

This project has multiple stakeholders within and beyond the nonprofit sector across Ontario, involved in multiple capacities. Below, the visual demonstrates those that are at the centre of our project – diverse women working in the sector – overlapping with our advisory council, community of practice, and project partners. We’ve identified other groups of stakeholders we are involving and hope to involve and have left room for those that might come to the forefront as the project unfolds and progresses.

The following three represent the project at the national Gender Equality Network Canada facilitated by the Canadian Women’s Foundation for the Status of Women Canada.

Elizabeth McIsaac

Debbie Douglas
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants

Cathy Taylor
Ontario Nonprofit Network

What is Decent Work?

The concept of decent work was developed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and is defined as “opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity” (International Labour Organization, “Decent Work,” 2015).

The nonprofit sector can be a major catalyst for a conversation about decent work and what it could mean for Canada, Ontario, our communities and the nonprofit sector itself.

How to Get involved

Follow the conversation online: #decentwork4women

Invite us for to talk about decent work for women

Participate in our upcoming engagement activities

Contact our Project Lead Pamela Uppal,, 416-642-5786 x504

This project is funded by Status of Women Canada