Gender equality in Canada going nowhere fast: study

November 5, 2014

OTTAWA—Progress towards gender equality in Canada has stalled, says a study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The study, a shadow report on Canada's Implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, provides a detailed view of Canada's progress towards equality over the past five years. It was produced by 35 contributors, from 30 civil society, academic, Aboriginal, and human rights organizations, representing over three million members from every region of the country.

"Currently, there is a lack of systematic gender-based analysis and research on gender inequality in Canada, resulting in policies and programmes that fail to meet the specific needs of women," says Doris Mae Oulton, President of the Canadian Federation of University Women.

According to the study, gender inequality has persisted or worsened in a number of critical areas, including violence against women, women's economic security, and the human rights of Aboriginal women and girls:

  • The federal government does not have a stand-alone policy on intimate partner violence or sexual assault, nor does Canada have a national action plan to address violence against women.
  • Rates of sexual assault and intimate partner violence have remained persistently high in Canada, with 1.8 million Canadians reporting having experienced one of these forms of violence in the past five years. The issue of violence is particularly acute with respect to Aboriginal women and girls in Canada, with rates of violence that are at least three times higher than non-Aboriginal women and girls.
  • The last five years have seen little change in women's poverty in Canada. Overall, 13.3% of women live in poverty, however Aboriginal women and single mothers experience even higher rates, at 30% and 36% respectively.
  • The Canadian gender pay gap is the eighth-largest among OECD countries.

"Twenty years ago Canada ranked first amongst nations in international measures of gender equality. In 2014, Canada had fallen to nineteenth place in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Index," says Kate McInturff, Senior Researcher at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. "The federal government has the potential to be a leader in progressive policies for women, nationally and internationally. By implementing its existing commitments and ensuring that all of its policies address the specific challenges faced by women, Canada could regain its reputation as one of the best places in the world to be a woman."


Progress on Women's Rights: Missing in Action is available on the CCPA website:

For more information contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Senior Communications Officer, at 613-563-1341 x306.