YWCA Hamilton: Voices

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Canadian Women Lag in Political Power Relative to Men

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A new study reveals that Canada is far behind other countries such as Sri Lanka, Uganda and Guyana when it comes to how much political power women have relative to men.

While Canadian women have gained almost equal ground in the areas of health and education, the gaps between men and women are enormous in economics and politics. 

 “We often make an assumption, not just in Canada but in other countries, that we’ve achieved equality for women and we can move on to talk about other issues. This is a wake up call that we have a lot of work to do,” said Deborah Gillis, senior vice-president and head of the Canadian office of Catalyst, an international advocacy group for women in business.

Business was measured in wages and management positions. The study reveals that Canadian women have an attainment level only three-quarters to that of men. This is not surprising as here in Hamilton, 7% of women working full-time all year long earn wages so low they still live in poverty. This amounts to more than 4,000 working poor women in Hamilton.

The issue of gender equality is not just a human rights issue, there are also serious economically ramifications. “Our research shows that more women in leadership roles on boards of directors and senior leadership teams points, for instance, to organizations having stronger financial performance,” says Gillis.

Most alarming is Canada’s gender inequality in politics, measured by the number of female legislators and cabinet ministers. Here a 71% gap exists between men and women! While Canada is making gains federally, 76 women (24.7%) were elected to the House of Commons this past spring; women must meet a critical threshold of 30% in governments before women’s concerns can begin to be addressed in a substantial way.

Is it no wonder that the economic inequalities between men and women are directly linked to a lack of political power? As long as Canadian women continue to hit the political glass ceiling, concerns over the pink ghetto and cheap labour will not be prioritized and the drive for equal pay and the pursuit of a family wage will not be championed in the way it needs to be.





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