You are visiting Liisbeth’s archives! 

Peruse this site for a history of profiles and insightful analysis on feminist entrepreneurship. 

And, be sure to sign up for’s newsletter where Liisbeth shares the latest news in feminist spaces.

Feminist Practices Our Voices

Unionizing Freelancers

Image of a woman, sitting in basement under construction holding a paint roller brush looking weary.

The number of freelancers is growing. But are freelance unions growing? If not, why not? And what would happen if freelance unions worked together?

Freelance writer Toni Main (not their real name) landed a new $6,000 gig. There was no formal contract–just a series of emails and mutual trust about what was expected, what they would deliver and how much they would make. Several months later, Main remained unpaid. As a last resort, they turned to the Canadian Freelance Union for help. 

“And that’s why we’re here, says” Nora Loreto, new President of the Canadian Freelance Union (CFU), a local of Unifor, founded in 2006 by the Communications, Energy, Paperworkers Union (CEP). “It’s also what I like most about what we do. When someone has a grievance, been harassed, or strung along by a contractor, we get involved. We use a variety of tactics to get justice for our members. And we have not failed yet.”

CFU, like other unions in the media and communication space also provide members with health care insurance options, training opportunities, contract negotiation support and press cards.

Yet, despite the benefits of joining a union and increased number of freelancers due to ongoing tsunami waves of layoffs in the media sector, including Postmedia’s recent move to cut 11 per cent of its editorial staff, CFU freelance union membership numbers (200) seem surprisingly low.

Loreto says part of the reason is that there many freelance media/communication professionals unions out there, like the Canadian Writer’s Union (1,600 members), The Canadian Freelance Guild (340 members), the  Communications Workers of Canada (6,000 members due largely to CBC worker memberships)  and CFU’s parent union, Unifor Media Council (8,000) to name a few.

Ultimately, this fragments both membership and power. There is also the out of pocket cost issue ($125-150 per year per union) and member churn; if someone gets a job, they leave.

Other reasons include the fact that the majority of Canada’s 2.8 million (15 per cent of the labour force) contractor workers and self-employed founders, are largely under informed about the existence and benefits of freelance unions and the value of collective bargaining.

However, Loreto is optimistic that will change.

Recently, Loreto co-organized a hybrid freelancer summit in Toronto at Metropolitan University. Approximately 20+ people representing a variety of organizations—or themselves—attended the event, which took place February 3. 

One of them was Chris Katsarov Luna, freelance photojournalist and founding member of the freelance union United Photojournalists of Canada. Luna says many photojournalists have recently found themselves pink-slipped due to tight budgets and then re-hired on contract terms, an arrangement that saves the company up to 25 per cent per person in staff costs. 

“Some (people) think freelancing is great, but most of us are not in the least bit interested in being self-employed and would prefer a regular, waged position with benefits,” says Luna. 

This includes soft benefits too, like corporate discounts for gym memberships, and other “soft” benefits not extended to contractors. 

Luna felt the freelance summit meeting was very productive and believes collaboration can power up and bring more negotiating power to their members.

Freelancers growing in number

Contract workers, solopreneurs and self-employed founders (freelancers) remain the fastest growing segment of the Canadian labour force. Surveys done by Statistics Canada shows the top reason for going freelance was freedom, followed by the inability to find suitable employment.  Women freelancers also cite escaping workplace discrimination, harassment and corporate glass cages as key reasons for exiting traditional employment. Although the number of people employed as freelancers dipped slightly in 2021Upwork, a U.S. based, global freelance platform with more than 14 million users, anticipates freelancers will represent over 50 per cent of the U.S. workforce in the U.S. by 2027. A 2023 study by MBO Partners, a U.S. based  independent worker management company,  shows the number of American freelancers increased by 26 per cent in 2022Experts predict similar growth trends in Canada, especially as companies begin to insist on a return to the office, a condition some workers now balk at.

The pay gap

Freelancing is tough for all, but especially women and other marginalized groups.

While income data varies by industry, age and province, the majority of freelancer workers are barely keeping their heads above water. In 2020, Canadian male freelancers earned on average $45,600, while women working in the same field made just  $34, 400–a 24 per cent gender-based wage gap. Thus, average freelancer incomes barely exceed Canada’s current poverty line ( $37, 542). When we further compare the gender pay gap in the freelance space to the waged employment space, recent OECD data shows the pay gap for women freelancers is a  whopping 40 percent higher than that experienced by women in the waged sector. The more intersectionalities you add in, the wider this income gap gets– available studies also show racialized people, single parents, and recent immigrants are over represented in the freelance and self-employment space, and even more likely to struggle financially than their white counterparts, and black freelancers often face discrimination in online hiring platforms.

Being a freelancer is clearly a tough hustle at the best of times, but with rampant inflation, no paid leave or access to subsidized health or dental plans, and chronically late pay cheques– studies show 29 per cent of freelance invoices are paid late– it’s getting harder and harder for freelancers to make ends meet. This is again, especially true if you’re a woman– while male freelancers are paid late 24 per cent of the time, female freelancers are waiting on a payment that’s “in the mail” 31 per cent of the time. 

Are Entrepreneurs Freelancers too?

Anyone who works independently, without a formal salary, according to Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) essentially self-employed aka a freelancer—and this includes consultants, contractors, and includes self-employed entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs are commonly viewed as people building the next Facebook. But the fact is, 55 per cent of all incorporated businesses are enterprises with just 1-4 employees. micro enterprises–the vast majority of which solopreneur enterprises. However, a search of start-up and growth programs (such as Startup Canada and Futurpreneur) shows no mention of unions and how solopreneurs founders might benefit by joining. Instead, solopreneurs default lawyers to help with contract disputes or harassment claims.

Given that even a simple “cease and desist letter” or taking legal action to get paid can run into the thousands, many solopreneurs across industries increasingly realize they have a lot in common with freelancers when it comes to living with precarity, vulnerability and accessing basic worker rights. Nancy Wilson, founder and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce, says their members, many of whom were hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic, are increasingly looking to the government for answers to systemic self-employment related exploitation issues felt more acutely now than ever before.  

“Anyone fighting to change the system can learn a lot from the labour movement. We deliberately reached out to the Canadian Freelance Union and the Canadian Labour Congress to join our advocacy alliance for self-employed individuals,” Wilson says.

Image of women, men participating in International Women's Day rally in Toronto. Holding red and white signs. Reads Women will never be safe under capitalism.
International Women's Day March and Rally ,Toronto, 2023 |Photo by Greg English.


Loreto says the February Freelancer Summit meeting was the first in a series of meetings planned for cities across Canada over the next year.

We would like to have a national forum or roundtable for freelance advocacy groups—not creating a new organization—just bringing people together in the organizations they are already in,”Loreto says. 

“There is a growing realization that “Everything about the economy is networked, and if we want to build a new economy, then the networks that we build have to be different,” she adds.,

In the meantime, Loreto says contractors and solopreneurs would be wise to research and consider a union card.

“We can help make visible (the) invisible work and highlight the challenges we face to governments to ensure freelancers, the so-called ‘precariat’, are not left behind for long,”she says. 

For more information about upcoming meetings, visit All are welcome, and women solopreneurs and micro enterprise founders are encouraged to participate.

Publishers Note: This article was  cross-published by our partner,

Related Reading

Sample Newsletter


Photo by Sam Beasley on Unsplash


When we talk about how to advance inclusivity and diversity, we often default to identifying new ways of including those typically excluded to enter the dominant group’s tent. As colleague Dr. Barb Orser would say, this is known as the “Add X (insert your word here____________ i.e., women, LGBTQIA2S, people of colour, newcomers, etc.) and stir approach to diversity and inclusion.

Given the mounting evidence that the decades-plus worth of “Add X and Stir” efforts are yielding disappointing results and, in some companies, even creating rifts, we need to start thinking differently.

This is where the feminist economy comes in.

What is the feminist economy?

The feminist economy is a kaleidoscope of startup and established organizations and enterprises that live at the intersection between feminism, social justice, and business.

It’s not all about bookstores or zine publishers anymore, either.

It cuts across sectors and is comprised of fearless startup founders, enterprise owners, non-profit leaders, plus collective, association, activist and cooperative directors of all genders who collaborate and expressly launch gendered products and/or services that challenge norms and advance both gender and social justice.

This pluralistic, global community doesn’t just tinker. These leaders robustly practice and innovate diversity and inclusion concepts. No wonder. They invented the conversation about 200 years ago. And because they exist on the fringe, often without corporate or establishment ties, they have the latitude to push the boundaries—with both hands.

Sure. They might have also read Lean Startup by Eric Ries. But they are more likely to have been inspired to act by Adrienne Maree Brown’s Emergent Strategy or Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World when thinking about startup design, finance, and strategy.

They also routinely draw on feminist scholarship for inclusive operational practice and governance ideas, plus engage with feminist media to share insights and findings—because there is no feminist executive program (yet!). Their companies create economic value—but also serve as social justice labs. They work hard and take risks in order to put into practice feminist values, futures, scholarship, and best practices in an economy that continues to reward in outsized ways kyriarchal compliance (patriarchy + intersectionality = kyriarchy).

According to our most recent LiisBeth survey, the majority of feminist founders and business owners connect with the visionary definition of feminism articulated by feminist writer, bell hooks. It’s based on love for all humanity and the planet.

So where am I going with all this? As argued so well by Dr. Dori Tunstall, OCAD University’s Dean of the Faculty of Design (the first Black dean of a design school in North America), during her keynote at the 2018 Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum, diversity and inclusion practices, as we know them today, are not only not enough—they seem unnecessarily colonial, primitive and fragile.

We need new stocky, radical ideas.

Perhaps it’s finally time to make feminism a “safe word” in the world of business and innovation. Instead of marginalizing its scholars and its practitioners, it might be finally time to name, fame, and embrace its wisdom.



Amanda Laird, author & feminist holistic nutritionist


In the wake of its Oscar win for short documentary, Period. End of Sentence. is about the stigma of menstruation in rural India, and how helped a group of Indian women create a micro-economy in their community. We think it’s bloody great to see so much positive press about periods.

Speaking of periods, check out our Q&A with author and nutritionist Amanda Laird about her path to podcasting and how she got a book deal to write about smashing the stigma and shame of periods and listening to your body.

We are so close to being able to use that new period emoji. Next cycle.


Go to and be one of the first two people to leave a comment on Amanda’s story to receive a signed, FREE copy of Heavy Flow.

Tell us what prompted your feminist entrepreneur journey. OR write a taboo haiku about your favourite (or weirdest) period experience.

Sabrina Dias and crew on site in Nevada, USA


Sustainable mining is like saying nutritious mass food production. Impossible in an industry rife with corruption, greed, and sexism. Yet Sabrina Dias stands firmly in her work boots and her vision: successful, profitable businesses built on the foundations of sustainable development. 

Dias used to encounter hostility and bullying in her work, but that has shifted to respect and admiration.

She’s a crusader with a higher purpose. Read the story here to see how she picks herself up and dusts herself off. She is known to “go tribal” and mining companies have everything to gain by working with her. Rock on!

Photo: Unsplash


Self-employed people, entrepreneurs and freelancers have no mandated minimum wage, and sometimes they don’t get credit for their work. And many sell themselves short when it comes time to invoice.

Our new contributor, Emma Elobeid, works in the content marketing world—and she says “enough.” While there is no right or wrong (in terms of pay) in online content creation churn, it’s important to know your worth.

Read more on claiming identity and pay equity, and check out lessons learned from the frontline feminist freelancer.

March is around the corner.
Many wil be marching.
LiisBeth needs your help to March forth.
We rely 100% on reader donations.
And every paid subscription helps us with grant applications.
Our impact is measurable. If social and economic justice are important to you, here’s your chance to help us shine a light on the feminist economy.

If you find our content of value, consider contributing to us on Patreon
Each online magazine refresh and newsletter takes a collective effort.
We have reached over 2,500 subscribers, but less than 30% contribute financially.


Canada’s former justice minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould: Photo via Shutterstock.


If you are in Canada, you are probably still reeling from former Canadian justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould’s testimony yesterday. If you are not in Canada–this story is about another a corporation abusing its power–pointing a gun with a barrell tightly packed with jobs- to an elected governments’ head. Yes. This happens in Canada too.

Was Wilson-Raybould pressured to delay its prosecution of SNC Lavalin? The transcript speaks for itself. She was.

SNC Lavalin is a $10B Quebec-based company with 8700 employees in Canada and 50 000 employees worldwide. There are only two women on its twelve person leadership team The 11 member board includes three women. It did not make the 2019 “Best Canadian Employer” list. It has a history of bribery and collecting billion dollar fraud, corruption and shareholder-led class action suits.

In her testimony, Wilson-Raybould concluded by saying  “I was taught to always hold true to your core values and principles and to act with integrity. These are the teachings of my parents, grandparents and community. I come from a long line of matriarchs and I am a truth teller in accordance with the laws and traditions of our Big House. This is who I am and who I will always be.”

Speaking truth to power. Raybould-Wilson, you have taught us all a lesson.

The question is–do we have the stomach to learn from it. Will Canadians support governments who uphold the rule of law when faced with material threats by neoliberal era King King corporations?

Gilakas’la (means “thank you” in Kwakwala), JW-R for your courage.

For other takes on the case, check out these indie media articles we believe are worth reading. They be can be found here and here.

Carole Murphy (pictured above) is a Montana-based eco-entrepreneur, gender equity advocate, and creator of Heart Stock Radio. In 2016, she incorporated her business, Purse for the People, as a Benefit Corporation.

A Benefit Corporation is basically a B Corp backed by legislation.

Why is that a good thing? For starters, it protects the company from those wanting to mess with its social benefit mission. As social entrepreneurs know all too well, mission is often on the auction block during capital raises, leadership changes, and founder exits. Incorporating as a Benefit Corporation also prepares businesses to lead a mission-driven life post-IPO.

The UK pioneered the concept of a legislatively backed hybrid organization with the introduction of the community interest company (CIC). The United States followed suit with their version of the idea. Only two provinces in Canada, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, have a legal option that resembles benefit corporations. That’s gotta change.

Murphy says, “The biggest challenge with benefit corporations is a general lack of understanding about what they are, and why they’re important.”

That, too, has to change.

Murphy is launching an equity-based campaign on March 1.

You can check out past live recordings of Heart Stock Radio here. MARK THE DATE: LiisBeth founder, PK Mutch, will be on the show on Friday, March 8 at 7 p.m. EST.


Rebecca Traister’s latest book is timely and crucial. It offers a glimpse into the galvanizing force of women’s collective anger which, when harnessed, can change history.

We bet Canada’s former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, plus many others will curl up tonight with this one.

Last fall, we asked over 130 LiisBeth readers in our last survey where they went to keep up with feminist ideas and thought leaders. The number-one source was feminist media and books. In a time when social and gender justice is the new political centrefold, the feminist book category is, not surprisingly, exploding. There simply is not enough time to read them all.

So we are going to help you whittle it down.

Watch for our 2019 recommended reading list next month. If you missed last year’s list, you can still download it here.

Illustration by J. J. Steeves


Thinking of starting an advisory board? Not sure where to start? Check out this month’s handy Growth Wheel in the form of a free downloadable briefing: “Advisory Board or Red Wine Club.” It will help you get started.

Lorna Mutegyeki combines her business background and creative expertise to connect people and make a real difference.


In an industry notorious for unfair wages and horrible working conditions, fashion designer and business owner Lorna Mutegyeki stands out. Not only because her clothing designs are bold and unique and stunning, but also because she insists on treating her employees with the respect they deserve.

In 2017, Mutegyeki launched Msichana, a sustainable luxury fashion label that is committed to advancing employment opportunities for women in Africa. The social enterprise employs and empowers women through every step of the production process. Msichana ensures the women are paid fairly, have great working conditions, and that each garment is unique and handmade using the highest quality fabrics on the continent.

“Each piece is a handmade, one-of-a-kind work of art with much love and attention put into it,” says Mutegyeki.

From belts to dresses, jackets to jumpsuits, prices range from $80 to $600+, which might sound pricey, but remember: you get what you pay for. Zero mass production. Zero waste.

The creations are designed in Canada and proudly produced in Africa by weavers, dyers, and embroiderers. The company’s supply chain is completely transparent and ethically made for women, by women. Materials are meticulously sourced and include tracing the cotton down to the seed where it was grown. Ethical fashion is hard work.

Mutegyeki is based in Edmonton. She is a chartered professional accountant and has an MBA from the University of Alberta. Msichana is the result of an inner need for Mutegyeki, the desire to make a difference in the kind of work she was doing.

“I realized the dissatisfaction I had was probably never going to leave so I decided to just take the risk and tackle it head on,” she says.

Msichana is also breaking stereotypes by providing these types of work opportunities for women in Africa. She told us that in Ethiopia, most embroidery work is traditionally done my men. Mutegyeki’s goal is to empower women and show the impact that empowerment has on their lives, families, and community.

We’re following some exciting design news (hint: it involves inclusion) from Msichana in the coming week. Look for a full profile at

A look inside Msichana’s studio in Uganda.

Yin Yoga with Affirmations for Self-Love & Healing
[30 minutes]
Self-love is not just for Valentine’s day.
Practice healthy self-care with Yoga with Kassandra. Your inner self will thank you.


We asked, you answered. Tack! That’s “thank you” in Swedish. A portrait of former Swedish Feminist Initiative Party Leader, Gudrun Schyman, is coming in weeks.

NEW POLL from our query bucket: Which story should we publish? Click here to vote (takes one minute or less to complete).

  • Is the attack on neoliberalism bad for women? The numbers show that many women benefitted from it around the globe.

  • The Wakefield, UK miners’ strike was famously supported by gay and lesbian organizations—and serves as an example of an intersectional movement long before the word was coined. What is the legacy it left behind? What is Wakefield like now?

  • Profile of a social justice–oriented Oakland, CA dance studio run by two fierce feminists and their unique “Try Matriarchy” initiative.


How do we make social justice the most pleasurable human experience? How can we awaken within ourselves desires that make it impossible to settle for anything less than a fulfilling life?
Emergent Strategy author and editor adrienne maree brown finds the answer in something she calls “pleasure activism,” a politics of healing and happiness that explodes the dour myth that changing the world is just another form of work. Drawing on the black feminist tradition, she challenges us to rethink the ground rules of activism. Her mindset-altering essays are interwoven with conversations and insights from other feminist thinkers, including Audre Lorde, Joan Morgan, Cara Page, Sonya Renee Taylor, and Alexis Pauline Gumbs. Together they cover a wide array of subjects—from sex work to climate change, from race and gender to sex and drugs—building new narratives about how politics can feel good and how what feels good always has a complex politics of its own. —

Do you cringe everytime you hear a speaker at a women’s empowerment event tell the audience that “it’s our time” because colourful scans of women’s brains prove they are biologically wired to align with today’s most desired leadership skills like empathy, collaboration, or flower arranging? Good news! Gina Rippon’s new book crushes that myth with a Dr. Martens boot. Rippon, emeritus professor of cognitive neuroimaging at the Aston Brain Centre at Aston University in Birmingham, UK, describes herself as “an outspoken critic of the ‘neurotrash’ (known as the “Neurotrash Warrior”) defined as the populist misuse of neuroscience research to misrepresent our understanding of the brain and, most particularly, to prop up outdated stereotypes.” The book has just been released.


  • China and Feminism: Will the feminist’s movement’s work ever be done? Not likely. Especially when we see initiatives like China’s social credit system on track for implementation by 2020. Essentially, citizens will be ranked and rated on a social credit score based how well they meet their social and economic obligations. Imagine. Hanging out with the Feminist Five? Minus 100 points. Good Confucian housewife? Plus 50. China ranks 87 amongst 142 countries in terms of political empowerment and economic participation of women, positioned in between Venezuela and Uganda.
  • More on China: Episode three of the Netflix series, Patriot Act, focused on censorship in China and included a full interview with feminist activist Xiaowen Liang and how women in China are initiating the #MeToo movement despite censorship regulations. Follow @FeministChina for the latest info on grassroots Chinese feminist movement. New episodes of the Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj air every Sunday where he brings an incisive perspective to global news, politics, and culture in his unique comedy series.
  • Breakthrough Film Festival 2019 submissions are being accepted until March 1st. BFF is dedicated to supporting emerging filmmakers who identify as women, trans, or non-binary. The yearly festival takes place in downtown Toronto and showcases Canadian and international short films in all genres made by emerging directors of all ages, with a special category for new generation artists (18-30 years old). Eligibility: must be an emerging talent and identify as a woman, trans, or non-binary person. To submit, click here.

That brings us to the end of our 50th newsletter!

If you found value in what you read here or in the original articles on our website, we hope you will consider donating one time or becoming a monthly subscriber for as little as $3/month.

Demonstrating growth in paid readerships is not just about the money–it also helps us secure sponsorships and grants—it serves as proof positive that readers value what we do.

To donate one time or become a donor subscriber, click here.

Next newsletter will come out April 2nd-ish! Mark the date! 

Peace out,