Report says men and women in North America won’t reach economic equality for 158 years

Despite equal access to education, Canadian women still earn less than men / Joanna Ward


This year, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly declared himself a feminist. This move was considered controversial, particularly by those who claim we as a society no longer need feminism. However, if you think men and women in Canada are on equal ground, this year’s Global Gender Gap Report from the World Economic Forum says you are wrong.

On the list of countries involved in the study, Canada ranks 35th, a full 15 per cent below Iceland, who lead the group at 87.4 per cent equality between men and women. The report showed that women in Canada have achieved equality with men when it comes to educational opportunities, a statistic shared with 23 other countries. This was achieved in 2013. Despite that, women are on average earning only 65 cents for every dollar earned by men. The Globe and Mail reports that on average a woman in Canada earns approximately $35,869 per year while men on average earn about $54,411.

When it comes to political empowerment, Canada has fallen even further behind, ranking 49th. Though no countries on the list have achieved political parity between men and women, Canada falls nearly 50 per cent below Iceland, who again lead this category. Canada is not even close to being in the top 10 countries, falling 20 per cent below 10th place ranked Germany. To put Canada’s rank in perspective, Canadian women have achieved only 22 per cent political empowerment. The global average is 23 per cent.

The report does note that “changes to the cabinet are not yet reflected in globally comparable data sources although they would clearly boost Canada’s ranking.” The current Liberal government elected to appoint 15 female cabinet ministers, making it Canada’s first gender balanced cabinet in the country’s history.

The highest spots on the chart “continue to be held by smaller European countries, particularly the Nordics who occupy the top four positions, with two countries from the East Asia and the Pacific region, one country from the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and one country from Latin America and the Caribbean region also represented.” says the report. “Compared to the world average, the leaders of the Index perform particularly strongly on Political Empowerment, with all ranking in the top 20 on this subindex.”

The first edition of the index was released in 2006, and since then, the report states, first ranked Iceland has closed approximately 12 per cent of its overall gender gap ”making it one of the fastest-improving countries in the world.”

The report says that though global equality reached a high in 2013, this year we’ve actually gone backward. Though North American is among those with the least way to go to achieve gender parity, progress has slowed to a crawl.

Canada, and our neighbours to the south, have still got a lot of work to do. The report states that “given the slow progress over the last decade, the gender gap in North America is expected to close in 158 years,” or when women born in 2016, given current life expectancy rates in Canada, have been dead for
nearly 75 years.

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