Canada has made regular headlines in recent years thanks to its progressive agenda and policymaking. In 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed the country’s first-ever gender-equal cabinet, a move that received widespread media coverage.
In June 2017, the Canadian federal government released a policy that is described as the country’s first “feminist international-assistance policy”. It set an aspiration target of having a minimum of 95% of all foreign aid improving the lives of women and girls around the world.
These moves are not all altruistic, though. The Canadian government predicts that tackling gender inequalities in the country could be a “considerable” opportunity to add as much as $150 billion to the country’s gross domestic product.
Narrowing Gender Pay Gap
The country is also trying to tackle the gender pay gap. A report by Statistics Canada in 2018 found that women earned approximately 13% less than their male counterparts (when comparing the hourly wage rates of full-time workers). While there is still a long way to go, this has improved significantly since 1998. The gap then was $5.17 more per hour for men than women, while in 2018 it was $1.04.
The gender pay gap is part of a broader push for gender equality across the world. Many countries have, or are considering implementing laws to outlaw the practice of paying women less than men for the same work.
There are also efforts to do away with outdated stereotypes of “gender roles”. An example of this would be a recent UK ban on showing gender stereotypes in advertisements. This means that an ad cannot show a man struggling with using a washing machine, or a woman struggling with a DIY task. Campaigners are also pushing for more coverage for women’s sports in the media in an attempt to create parity with their male equivalents.
Areas for Improvement
While progress is happening, some experts are predicting that it could take almost 150 years to close the gap completely. However, there are areas that this progress can be sped up. In 2017 a study of corporate boards found that 95% of all CEOs in major Canadian businesses are male, with women being promoted to higher positions significantly less frequently than men. By boosting the progression of women, promoting more of them into more senior positions will be a significant boon to the gender pay gap.
Women are also more likely to take roles that pay lower rates. Therefore, providing opportunities to access higher-paying jobs will make a significant difference. Women are significantly more likely to take on the child-caring duties, so providing flexible working and better access to childcare could help resolve these barriers to more gainful employment.
For Canada, there is a long way to go in closing the gender pay gap. However, they have also made a significant difference in just 20 years. While more can always be done, Canadians should celebrate the progress they have made and the example they have set.
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