HL: Gender equality in everyone’s best interest
As a self-declared feminist, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has strongly advocated for a proactive approach in closing the gap on gender inequality in this country.
He started his government’s mandate by assembling a cabinet with an equal number of men and women. It has served to enhance his image on the international stage where women continue an ongoing struggle for global gender parity.
So where do we stand as a country today in terms of gender parity? According to a new report out last week from the World Economic Forum, Canada is one of the few countries to make significant advancements in narrowing the gender gap.
Out of 144 countries rated in the latest report, Canada ranks first for equality in educational attainment between men and women. Overall, we are in 16th place, but interestingly enough we are in 56th place for women in the political sphere.
Just 26 per cent of our parliamentarians for women.
Considering that women in this country still make 74 cents to every dollar that a man earns and gender-based violence affects approximately half of all Canadian women, there is still plenty of room for improvement in terms of equality.
However, we can take comfort in knowing Canada is certainly on the right track and we should celebrate those advancements. The overall global picture is certainly not as promising.
The World Economic Forum has said that gender equality “is in retreat” for the first time since the group began measuring systemic gender inequality in 2006. The report takes into account several metrics including life expectancy parity, labor participation, and political representation, though does not include societal or cultural attitudes towards gender.
Despite growing equality in education, health, workplaces and politics, gains are starting to regress.
WEF described 2017 as “a bad year in a good decade,” and noted that the current global gender gap would take nearly 100 years to close at the current rate, whereas last year’s prediction placed this time frame at 83 years. However, the report notes: “Given the continued widening of the economic gender gap, it will now not be closed for another 217 years.”
Our neighbours to the south, the United States, have been cited as one country that has made significant decline dropping from 23rd in the year the study started to 49th this year.
As researchers point out we have a moral responsibility - across all sectors from business, and government to civil society - to accelerate the pace of gender equality.
According to the report, reducing global gender inequality could “increase global GDP by $5.3 trillion by 2025,” by addressing economic participation alone.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has recognized a better use of the world's female population could increase economic growth, reduce poverty, enhance societal well-being, and help ensure sustainable development in all countries.
If only the political leadership worldwide was enlightened enough to realize that a gender equal world is in everyone’s best interest.
Geoff deGannes is the past chairman of the Tantramar Radio Society. His daily commentaries can be heard on 107.9 CFTA.