As Canada’s first Gender Equality Week kicks off, there are many actions we can ALL take to advance equality.
One of the easiest is spreading awareness and countering the myth that gender equality is simply a “women’s issue”. You don’t have to look far for evidence that gender equality is relevant and beneficial to people of ALL genders. Therefore, it’s in everyone’s interest to support it.
Here are just 5 ways that advancing gender equality can improve quality of life for all of us:
1. Where there’s more gender equality, there’s more peace.
Gender equality is a more reliable predictor of peace than a country’s GDP or level of democracy. Countries with lower levels of gender inequality are also less likely to resort to the use of military force. Although Canadian society is relatively peaceful, gender-based violence persists in many forms — including intimate partner violence, sexual assault and harassment — which are rooted in gender inequality.
2. Advancing gender equality will add billions to Canada’s economy.
Taking steps to decrease gender inequality in the workplace, such as eliminating barriers to women’s workforce participation and promoting women’s leadership, could benefit Canada’s economy by as much as $150 billion by 2026, says a McKinsey Global Institute report. If the gender gap is eliminated entirely, that number could rise as high as $420 billion.
3. Gender diversity in leadership roles boosts business performance.
Companies with the highest levels of diversity (either gender, ethnic, or racial) are anywhere from 15 per cent to 35 per cent more likely to have financial returns above their industry’s national average, according to the 2015 McKinsey report Diversity Matters. Through various programs that we fund, the Canadian Women’s Foundation provides women and girls opportunities for leadership and mentorship.
4. Sharing household work leads to happier relationships.
Women continue to spend more time on unpaid housework and childcare than their male partners. Research shows that gender imbalances around housework can lead to relationship friction and increase the likelihood of divorce. The time women spend on unpaid work is also a contributing factor to the gender wage gap.
5. Gender equality makes children’s lives better.
Teens in countries with higher levels of gender equality, where social norms are likely to support both parents’ involvement in childcare, reported higher levels of life satisfaction than teens in countries with lower levels of gender equality. The Foundation is working to break down gender role stereotypes in relationships by supporting Teen Healthy Relationship programs across Canada. These programs encourage young people to think critically about gender stereotypes and learn skills that foster healthy, equal relationships.
These are just a few of the ways that advancing gender equality will contribute to a stronger, safer Canada.
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