Gender Equality in Canada

Canada has made a significant progress toward achieving gender equality, particularly in spheres such as workplace legislation, ministerial positions at the government level, and rates of high school completion. Less progress has been made in other spheres such as access to family planning and contraception.

How Canada Fares

According to director of Equal Measures 2030 Alison Holder, high school completion rates are 95 percent, up from 85 percent in the 90s. At the same time, more than 10 percent of Canadian women lack access to family planning and contraception.

Wage Gender Gap

Pay is another area in which women fare worse than men. Canada’s gender wage gap is one of the highest, compared to the OECD group of developed countries. Females in the age group 25 – 54 earn about 13 percent less than males. The wage gap has been reduced by 5.5 percent or $1.05, and one of the main reasons for this is women’s better educational attainment. Another reason is access to different occupations, coupled with fewer men having unionized occupations. More women now work in the spheres of business and finance, education, law, and government, community, and social services. The gender wage gap also narrowed in these sectors while the opposite trend can be observed in spheres such as applied and natural sciences. The gender wage gap also widened for administrative occupations and financial and administrative supervisors. In the period between 1998 and 2018, the gap narrowed in the manufacturing sector but widened in the construction sector. The main factors that contributed to either widening or closing the gap include firm size, union coverage, occupation in the public or private sector, part-time employment, job tenure, and educational attainment. Demographics also play a role, including factors such as marital status, children, province, and age. Other factors are type of occupation and industry. More women work part-time compared to men which contributes to the gender gap. Men are also overrepresented in some sectors, especially in the applied and natural sciences.

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At-Risk Women

Progress is also less visible for at-risk groups such as low-income women, those living in the northern part of the country, women with disabilities, and racialized and Indigenous women. According to the Unfinished Business Report, women with disabilities make for close to 50 percent of victims of violent crime. Indigenous women are even at a greater risk of becoming victim of violent crime, especially murder. The rate is six times lower for non-Indigenous women.

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When it comes to pay, Indigenous and racialized women also fare worse, with Indigenous women making 57 cents and racialized women making 60 cents for every dollar men make. The Unfinished Business Report also shows that on an annual basis, the gender gap narrowed negligibly (quarter of a percentage point) in the period between 2006 and 2018. At this rate, the gender gap will close in 164 years.

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Gender Equality Organizations in Canada

Gender equality organizations are committed to achieving equality for girls and women in all social spheres and to ending all forms of discrimination. In Canada, a number of gender equality organizations work to empower women and girls, including the Canadian Association for Equality, Gender Equality Network Canada, and Equality Fund.

Canadian Association for Equality

CAFÉ is dedicated to achieving equality for all people and ending discrimination based on race, family status, gender identity, sex, etc. Among the main focus areas of CAFE are stereotyping, media portrayal, family law, and workplace safety. The association organizes lectures, debates, conferences, seminars, and workshops on a variety of human rights topics and runs slogan and ribbon campaigns and other activities. The goal of the organization is to promote education through hosting events and offering educational aids, equipment, and books. CAFA has branches across Canada and in cities such as Victoria, Halifax, Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, and Toronto.

Gender Equality Network Canada

An initiative to achieve gender equality, the network advances policy changes through open letters, recommendations, and calls for action. Areas of concern include violence against women, sexual exploitation, women and disabilities, and indigenous girls and women. Other issues that call for action are sexual assault and the justice system, immigration, housing, the environment, economic security, and childcare. The network has been convened by the Canadian Women’s Foundation which funds different programs, among which Inclusive Leadership, Empowering Girls, Out Of Poverty, and Out Of Violence. To help empower girls, the foundation offers grants for programs in areas such as critical thinking and media literacy, physical activity and sports, mentoring, and science and technology. To assist non-governmental associations to develop programs, the foundation publishes reports with a focus on economic development, teens’ healthy relationships, violence prevention, and other issues.

The association accepts donations in the form of gifts in tribute, monthly donations, volunteering, and hosting an event.

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Equality Fund

A collective of experts in feminism, finance, and philanthropy, the Equality Fund works to promote political, economic, and cultural changes to achieve gender equality. The fund provides financing to women’s rights organizations around the world, among which CALAM in Tunisia, Crown the Woman in South Sudan, Femme Plus Togo in Togo, and others.

Save the Children Canada

Save the Children also seeks to advance gender equality so that all children enjoy equal right to participation, development, protection, and survival. All men, women, boys, and girls must enjoy equal opportunities and have equal obligations and rights when it comes to education, participation in political and public life, and housekeeping and caring for family members. Other spheres to advance equality include work and livelihood, health and security, and protection against violence.

Safe the Children Canada also supports global efforts to end gender-based and sexual violence and child forced and early marriage.

Plan International Canada also advances equality and the Youth-Led Roadmap for Gender Equality. The Roadmap is based on a number of commitments or targets such as ending discrimination against girls and women, participation in decision making and leadership, and equal right to financial services, ownership, and resources. The goal is to create a safe environment for all Canadians, regardless of identity or gender. To this, the main focus areas of the roadmap are enforceable legislation, equal access to reproductive health, and equal access to education.

Major sponsors and partners in the joint effort to advance equality include the Youth Advisory Council, Native Women’s Association of Canada, and Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity. Plan International Canada also launched the Youth for Gender Equality Initiative in cooperation with the Canadian Teachers’ Federation. The goal is to engage young Canadians to advance equality at the workplace, government level, and in their communities and families.


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