The Amherst News - - COVER STORY - Com­mu­nity View Geoff de Gannes Geoff deGannes is the past chair­man of the Tantra­mar Ra­dio So­ci­ety. His daily com­men­taries can be heard on 107.9 CFTA.

The time to close the gen­der eq­uity gap is now

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.

“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.”

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