Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may describe himself as a feminist but his government has fallen short when it comes to translating rhetoric into concrete outcomes, according to a new “feminist scorecard” issued by Oxfam Canada.
The scorecard, published two days before International Women’s Day, rates the government on eight categories pertinent to women’s welfare in Canada and abroad. Each category is given a green, yellow or red light rating — representing significant process, some progress or little progress respectively.
“Because it’s 2015”
In 2015, a newly-elected Prime Minister Trudeau famously named an equal number of women and men to his cabinet.
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Sure enough, the federal Liberals were awarded a green in the area of Representation and Leadership, garnering praise from Oxfam Canada for “taking meaningful steps to support women’s leadership” and for reinstating funding for women’s rights advocacy initiatives.
Gender pay gap persists
But the NGO was less enthused by the government’s progress in the area of Jobs and Pay Equity, handing it a red light rating.
“After campaigning on a promise of inclusive growth, the government has disappointingly taken very few steps to ensure women’s work is fairly paid and equally valued,” the scorecard says.
Statistics Canada data shows female workers earn 68.4 per cent of what their male counterparts take home, and represent only two-thirds of part-time workers.
Accordingly, Oxfam Canada is inviting Canadians to sign a petition urging the government to do more to address gender inequalities in working conditions and pay.
Steps in the right direction
Elsewhere, the Trudeau government’s launch of a national inquiry into violence against Indigenous women and girls, plus new investments in child care, earned it yellow ratings in the Violence Against Women and Care Work categories.
Oxfam Canada recognized the government’s progress in these two areas, but called for a “comprehensive national action plan to end violence against women,” as well as further steps to make child care more affordable and accessible.
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Yellow ratings were also doled out for the Climate Change, Tax and Conflict categories, with Oxfam Canada claiming that women are “the first and worst hit by the impacts of climate change” and stand to be severely affected by tax evasion and low corporate tax rates, which hurts public service coffers, as well as violent conflict around the globe.
Finally, the government also picked up a yellow for Global Development, with the scorecard saying that while Canada is well-positioned to assume a leadership role in women’s rights, it is hampered by “a near record-low aid budget.”
This comes despite Canada being the first country to pledge support for a Dutch-led campaign to create a global safe abortion fund to counter Trump’s move to cut off funding to organizations that offer abortion services.
Oxfam Canada says the six yellow scores speak to “noble intentions and some important steps in the right direction” — as well as the long road ahead.
“With a feminist prime minister and a government committed to inclusive growth, Canada is well placed to really push the needle forward on gender equality and improve the lives of women living in poverty,” director of policy and campaigns Lauren Ravon said.
“As the Liberal government embarks on the second year of its mandate, it is time to turn feminist words into action.”