This International Women’s Day, academic staff unite with women across the country and around the world to celebrate achievements and to call for bolder action to address inequality.
Twenty years ago, Canada was ranked first place on the UN’s Gender Inequality Index. By 2014, Canada slipped to 25th place.
We need to once again become a global leader.
The Liberal government has moved quickly in its first year to regain some lost ground: the child benefits and retirement security systems were improved; investments have been made to the shelter system; the Court Challenges Program of Canada (CCP) and the long-form census were reinstated; and a gender analysis of the budget is underway. In addition, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was launched and a commitment made to develop a comprehensive federal gender violence strategy and action plan.
More needs to be done. CAUT urges the government to:
1. Re-establish funding for women’s, Aboriginal, and equity-seeking groups, which engage in advocacy. The government’s $3 million increase last year to Status of Women Canada and the return of advocacy activities as an eligible grant activity were a start. However the Status of Women Canadas budget is still only 0.02% of total federal program spending.
2. Address inequality in employment. In universities and colleges, women are underrepresented in senior positions and overrepresented in precarious contract positions. The Conservative government weakened the Federal Contractors Program that requires organizations and businesses – including universities and colleges – receiving federal government contracts to have employment equity plans.
3. Close the wage gap. Women still earn less than their male counterparts even in academia, and when adjusted for rank, discipline, and other factors. The gap is greater for women who are Aboriginal, racialized, transgender, and those with disabilities. The federal government has promised to introduce pay equity legislation before 2018. This legislation should be based on the recommendations of the 2004 Federal Pay Equity Taskforce report and the 2016 Report of the Special Committee on Pay Equity.
4. End violence against women. The federal government has committed to a comprehensive federal gender violence strategy and action plan. This should include a plan to end “rape culture” and provide better access to legal aid for victims.
5. Establish a national child care program that offers accessible, affordable, and quality care. The federal government must provide funding and leadership, and work with provinces, territories and Indigenous communities to make affordable quality child care a reality for all families.