Canadian women have made considerable achievements in advancing gender equality while also dismantling systemic barriers within the political, economic, and social realms of Canada. This year’s commemoration of International Women’s Day highlights and celebrates the legacy of Canadian women who continue to inspire those fighting for gender equality. Although stories of heroic women are often posed as singular acts of bravery, Canadian women have and continue to make significant and unparalleled contributions to the betterment of Canada, from leading the pandemic response to spearheading social justice movements.
International Women’s Day by design is a time to evaluate progress on gender equality, globally. Although the Government of Canada has successfully institutionalized gender rights while also positioning itself internationally as a gender equality champion, research shows how progress on gender equality has stalled over the past 20 years. Gender equality in the workplace is disrupted by systemic barriers that impact women’s ability to achieve full economic empowerment, attain leadership positions, and receive equal pay. Moreover, women-dominated industries are also chronically underpaid and undervalued due to the gendered division of labour that still defines the Canadian economy. For example, the care economy has been traditionally tied to women which is why most care work is deemed as informal work, making it invisible, underpaid, unvalued or unpaid. Racism and classism has seeped into the labour market in the ways that jobs are distributed and valued.
Supporting the advancement of gender equality within the workplace is on the radar of the overwhelming majority of Canadian corporations. However, tackling systemic barriers in the workplace requires an intersectional approach due to how factors such as race, class, and gender intersect and present unique and specific barriers for low-income, Indigenous, disabled, and racialized women as well as gender non-binary individuals. This is an ongoing concern, specifically now, due to the pandemic which has exacerbated these groups levels of job loss and economic insecurity.
Key actions your organization can take:
- Acknowledge that gender inequality is a systemic issue that is deeply embedded in all Canadian institutions and that systemic barriers pose different challenges for women with intersectional identities.
- Understand that progress on gender equality requires deploying measurable tools to fully integrate women into the workplace and to achieve equal gender representation in management and leadership positions.
- Include women in post-pandemic rebuilding initiatives in order to avoid implementing policies that may present barriers to advancing gender equality.
Global Compact Network Canada is deeply committed to breaking systemic gender-based barriers within the private sector, especially following the pandemic where barriers have been perpetually reinvented and reinforced. To help address this concern, Global Compact Network Canada is currently engaging in a multi-year project funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada, Accelerating Systemic Change: The Change for Gender Equality Leadership For Sustainable Recovery, to examine how systemic barriers in the workplace hinders the ability to engage in efficient post-pandemic recovery within the private sector for women, gender non-binary individuals, and equity deserving groups.
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