Canada has made significant progress on gender equality in the last few years, developing institutions, policies, tools and accountability structures that position it as a leader in an area increasingly seen as a cornerstone of inclusive growth, according to a new OECD Review.
Gender Equality in Canada: Mainstreaming, Governance and Budgeting notes that Canada scores highly on several metrics of gender equality, particularly in the areas of educational attainment and employment. Canada has one of the highest shares of women ministers of OECD countries, although it falls below the OECD average for gender parity in Parliament and on company boards of directors.
“Political momentum is growing around the world for governments to take women’s inclusion and empowerment seriously, and Canada is ahead of the curve on this,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “Canada, and the rest of the world, must capitalise on this momentum to achieve full gender equality in all spheres.”
The Review was presented to ministers at a symposium on inclusive growth on the sidelines of a Meeting of G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Whistler. Prime Minister Trudeau has made womens’ equality and empowerment a central priority of Canada’s G7 Presidency.
Canada is now one of the few OECD countries where gender and inclusiveness analysis is mainstreamed within routine Cabinet processes, in accordance with the 2015 OECD Recommendation on Gender Equality in Public Life. Canada is also one of only 16 OECD countries, and one of the first G7 countries, to have implemented gender budgeting at the national level. Government ministries are mandated to ensure diversity and gender parity in leadership positions.
Remaining challenges include Canada’s gender wage gap – with female employees earning 88 cents for every dollar of hourly wages earned by men, gender-based violence, the low share of women in engineering and computer sciences, and the difficulties women face reaching leadership positions in the private sector. Women in Canada’s indigenous communities face additional barriers to education and employment.
The Review suggests that Canada work on developing an overarching strategy for gender equality at the federal level with specific targets, as a way to help orient, coordinate and spur future initiatives and build a practice that will go beyond political mandates. The federal government should also engage with provincial and territorial authorities to ensure an engagement at all levels of government. More could also be done to embed gender budgeting tools through all stages of the budget cycle.