This year, the theme of International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter. The campaign wants to highlight the importance of achieving greater gender equality through challenging bias and celebrating women’s achievements.
Canada was found to have the third highest quality of life for women, behind Norway and Sweden. The worst places for women to live were Moldova, Macedonia and Armenia.
Researchers sent an online poll to female journalists in 100 countries, and respondents were asked to rate various factors that affect women daily (like safety, education and health) on a scale of one to 10.
For example, a score of 10 for “human trafficking” meant the country is very good for women in terms of human trafficking.
The four main categories were: infrastructure, inequality, legislation and work. Within those categories, researchers determined basic necessities such as health, safety, education, divorce laws and more.
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Canada’s population is roughly 50 per cent women. The government is comprised of 39 per cent women, and with regards to corporate senior and middle management positions, only 35 per cent are women.
The numbers are better when it comes to sports: Women comprise 59 per cent of Canada’s Olympic team.
As well, Canada is one of three countries on the index that does not place a tax on female sanitary products, alongside Ireland and Australia.
Perhaps most interestingly, the index calculated something called the “Equal Pay Day.” This is the day from which women essentially work for free until the end of the year due to the gender wage gap.
In Norway, the Equal Pay Day is Dec. 4. In Sweden, it is Nov. 23. Canada’s Equal Pay Day is Oct. 25.
When asked which factors were most important to them, the women polled overwhelmingly said safety, education and health.
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According to another report, which was released Tuesday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, some places are better than others for women within Canada, too.
The report analyzed Canada’s 26 biggest cities for women’s access to five measures: economic security, personal security, education, health and leadership positions.
The study found Kingston, Ont., to be the best city for women in Canada. Barrie, Ont., was ranked last.
However, researchers make it clear that there was only a difference of seven per cent between Kingston and Barrie, “suggesting there is not a very large difference between the best place to be a woman in Canada and the worst.”
The largest gender gap was found in access to leadership and political empowerment, which significantly lowered the scores of Halifax, London and Montreal. The smallest gender gap was in access to healthcare.
The study also indicates that all major Canadian cities continue to struggle with high rates of sexual and domestic violence.
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“Violence against women is the worst for Indigenous women, women with disabilities, those who identify as LGBTQ2+ and young people,” said researcher Katherine Scott.
Kelowna, Toronto and Hamilton were found to have the lowest incidence of violence targeting women, measured by the number of incidents per 100,000 people.
“The risk was highest in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, which reported the highest rate of criminal harassment, followed by Winnipeg, Gatineau and Regina,” Scott said.
While these numbers are encouraging, there’s still a long way to go.
A recent report from the World Bank found only six countries — Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg and Sweden — have truly equal rights for men and women. Canada scored 97 per cent.
The report analyzed criteria such as: going places, getting paid, getting married, having children, running a business, managing assets and getting a pension.
The scores indicate that the average nation only affords women three-quarters of the legal rights they do men.