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Race And Gender Limitations In The Workforce

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The purpose of this paper is to analyze the oppression of women regarding public services in Quebec, as bill 62 was recently passed by legislation, banning the niqab and burka for most public sector related jobs. The bill argues that covering one’s face creates barriers for communication, identification, and security. This paper highlights the contradictory statements passed with this bill regarding freedom of religion, racialized workers, legislative text verses social practices, anti-muslim belief, and inequalities. Hence, it is evident that the public sector of Quebec has taken a great toll regarding women who are unable to work or receive services after bill 62 was passed by legislation, forcing these women to be stripped of their religious rights. To counter the claims made by this bill, this paper presents arguments such as freedom of religion, Queer theory, and post-colonial feminism.

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Keywords: Canada, Culture, Public sector, Women, Clothing, Legislation, Islam, Niqab, Muslim women, Quebec, Law; Queer Theory, Racialized workers, Religious rights.

Racial and Gender Barriers Faced by Public Sector Workers in Quebec

Quebec’s national assembly recently adopted Bill 62, a controversial law that is the Liberal government’s answer to a decade-long debate over the accommodation of religious minorities in the province. The bill imposes law prohibiting women living in Quebec who wear the niqab or burka from receiving or operating in public services. Not only is this a significant issue regarding race, religion, and gender, but it also brings about detrimental impacts to the public workforce of Quebec. A boundary has been set for these women who choose to wear a veil for religious and cultural purposes, by taking away their rights to perform public sector tasks, many of these individuals are unable to work.

When considering things such as disabilities and educational preference, this also limits the career paths for students or migrant workers who wish to work within the public sector in the future. This paper examines research conducted by several authors over the past few years revolving around topics like feminism, face covering bans in Quebec, and a similar bill passed by legislation earlier, all of which is affecting specific working minorities and can be related to certain queues in modern society which have been normalized, forcing people of this demographic to have very few options in a workplace environment.

Intercultural Relations

In Shaha El-Geledi’s (2012) article on testing the impacts of the Islamic veil on intergroup attitudes and host community orientation towards Arab Muslims, it was depicted that two studies were conducted in order to clarify the intercultural relations between the people of Quebec at the time.

The studies consisted of seventy-six (76) Quebec Francophone undergraduates attending l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), all participants were born in Quebec and had French as their mother tongue. The procedure of the study consisted of black and white photos of the same computer-generated image of a white female dressed in the following attire; western clothing, nun clothing, wearing a hijab, wearing a niqab (Appendix A). Participants were asked to rate the picture on a favorable scale from 1 to 7. Results showed that not only was the niqab least favorable on the scale, most students were not familiar with the Islamic veil and never see women wearing it in a public setting.

Other results also showed that the religious clothing was rated least attractive when compared with western clothing, this evidently has an impact on ethnic attitude towards immigrants or people of these specific clothing. Regarding ethnic attitude, Arab Muslim immigrants received significant negative attitudes and unfavorable attitudes towards women wearing the hijab. Hence, it is evident that according to these studies, the Quebec Francophones hold a sense of favoritism for people with western clothing and negative attitudes towards devalued minorities. The first step to change these negatives views based on stereotype would be to allow competent Arab Muslim women who wear the niqab to hold a more valued role positions, to produce a counterstereotype effect to improve general attitudes towards this ethnic group Post-Colonial FeminismAs discussed earlier, to counter these stereotypes surrounding the Islamic veil, it is necessary for Arab Muslim women to hold potions of value in society such as in the public sector.

However, by abolishing their religious rights, we indirectly force these capable individuals out of a professional working environment and positions of high value. In the journal article Unveiling the myth of the Muslim woman: a postcolonial critique, Golnaz Golnaraghi and Albert J. Mills (2012) examine the relationship between neo-colonialist discourse and Quebec’s proposed Bill 94 aimed at restricting the public activities of niqab and veil-wearing Muslim women. Bill 94 is within the same context as the current Bill 62, however it never came to pass as the liberal party was defeated in 2012, therefore this article reflects on the causality of why the Islamic veil has been viewed in a negative light in Quebec. The paper depicts that there is a postcolonial feminist lens which is a dominant factor in the stereotypes made against women wearing the Islamic veil. It argues that the feminist tradition has made significant contributions to a wide range of disciplines, and that western colonialism is a significant aspect of social life after reviewing its geographical reach.

This theory suggests that there is a notion of gender dynamics which plays a big role in society, especially regarding oppression and discrimination. Evidently, the intersection of gender, race, and ethnicity tend to be ignored across western feminist perspectives and emphasize on how Western constructions may reduce women to silence, either by replacing flexible gender systems with rigid and dualistic ones or by reinforcing non-Western patriarchal systems. When reflecting this claim to the point made about intercultural relations, one can depict that there is a clear pattern shown through the research conducted at l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), that society has normalized the idea that western culture is the most socially accepted and dominant form of lifestyle. Hence, most forms of minority are rejected as they do not fall under common stereotype.

Queer Theory

The paper Face to Face by Robert Lecky (2013) indicates that there is a connection between the exploration of bans on women’s head coverings and queer approaches. The paper itself does not claim an argument for or against the bill proposed but rather highlights contradictions made within the ruling of the bill when related to the status of majority and minority. The paper depicts that the acceptance of gay rights and baring of women’s faces have been coded as indices of modern liberal civilization. The idea of women covering their faces and a homophobic regime show a visible similar spatial logic. Both lenses consist of the same methodology, which is the construction of a threat and the exclusion from open participation in society. In respect to the Islamic veil, banning of the face coverings acts in a similar manner to a homophobic regime of the closet, and denies public indices of an Islamic presence. In relation to my previous points, requiring these women to unveil exposes them to silence and submission, forcing them to adapt to the mainstream or otherwise be part of a lesser favorable minority and subject to discrimination. The idea of post-colonial feminism also falls into place when considering the forced change on these women who are denied their religious rights.

Conclusion and Resolution

In conclusion, it is evident that the public sector of Quebec will experience a large decrease in workers due to Bill 62 that was recently passed, forcing Arab Muslim women to unveil their faces or otherwise not be eligible to receive or partake in public services. This paper analyzes this issue by considering the intercultural attitudes of Quebecois towards the niqab and burka by conducting research at the l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). It further examines the negative stereotypes upheld in that community by observing the scenario through a post-colonial feminist lens and supports it through making connections of oppression and submission using the Queer Theory. The public sector is a necessary component in society, forcing an entire demographic to adapt and normalize based on societies standards unwillingly is bound to have detrimental impacts on Quebec’s work force in the near future. As stated earlier, students and migrant workers who wear the Islamic veil will also be affected by this change, especially if their career choices are limited to the public sector. In my opinion, the only resolution in sight is that if the bill is overruled by a court or if the liberal government is overrun in the next federal election.

15 Jun 2020

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