By Marie-Claude Bibeau & Katja Iversen | The Vancouver Sun | 11 June 2018
The world today finds itself in a unique moment — whether on screens, in the workspace, or at the dinner table — where gender equality is in the global spotlight. Women-led movements are taking centre-stage and moving an agenda focused on equality and dismantling harmful norms full speed ahead. While some might argue we are facing unified attacks on women’s rights — and they would be right — we are also in a moment of unmistakable opportunity to move the needle forward for girls and women.
This year’s G7 is doing something that some would call revolutionary, and many believe is long overdue: looking at every priority issue through a gender lens. Prime Minister Trudeau, this year’s G7 President, established the world’s first G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council to generate recommendations on how to integrate gender equality and gender-based analysis across all G7 themes, activities, and outcomes. The goal? To improve gender equality across the board.
This action is vital because gender equality is not an issue that should be examined in isolation. Building a more gender-equal world will have a positive impact on sustainable development writ large, helping to curb climate change, boost economies, and safeguard peace and security. By examining the important role that girls and women play in all of these areas — and more importantly, by investing in them — the G7 leaders are more likely to achieve our collective goal of a more peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous world.
Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy promotes gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as the most effective way to eradicate poverty. The 2018 G7 has propelled Canada into a year of “coast to-coast to-coast” advocacy and action for gender equality. And, in June 2019, Canada will host the Women Deliver 2019 Conference, the world’s largest conference on gender equality and the health, rights, and wellbeing of women and girls.
More than 6,000 world leaders, influencers, advocates, academics, activists, and journalists will gather in Vancouver to accelerate progress for girls and women everywhere. But Women Deliver is not just a one-off conference, it is a movement to empower women and girls and to build a better world. So, in the year between the G7 and the Women Deliver 2019 Conference, we encourage all Canadians to step up and get involved through events, discussions, and actions on gender equality.
Canada is recognized as a leader on gender equality, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more work to do. According to a 2017 McKinsey Global Institute report, although Canada ranked within the top ten on McKinsey’s gender parity score, challenges remain. Canada must find new ways to encourage progress toward gender equality. The report says that gender gaps are most significant in managerial positions and within the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. Women also continue to take on the greatest burden of unpaid work. Canada is committed to making progress on these issues.
G7 will make gender equality a more conscious part of all joint international efforts for peace and prosperity, but only Canadians themselves will be able to close these gaps in domestic gender equality.
All Canadians — from CEOs to artists, government officials to non-profit leaders, athletes, teachers, and parents — can identify and take specific actions to address these shortcomings.
So, the question now is: what will you do in the next year, and beyond, to deliver for girls and women?
Marie-Claude Bibeau is minister of international development and la francophonie; Katja Iversen is president and CEO of Women Deliver.