GENDER EQUALITY IN CANADA

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:Sociology

Document 1

Canada is among the countries in the world where women’s rights are respected and upheld. Out of the 145 countries in the world examined by the world economic forum, Canada was ranked 30th. As per the 2015 Global Gender Report, with the rest of the world having 118 years to go before women and men are paid equally, Canada has only 47 and half years to attain such feet given that the pace towards gender equality is maintained. The report indicates that the country has made tremendous steps towards achieving equality in the society. This paper seeks to examine how Canada has progressed in regards to gender equality with the aim of establishing where the country is as at now and what more needs to be done to attain equality among genders in the society. The progress towards gender equality has been a cumulative phenomenon in Canada. The push for equality among genders can be traced to the 1880s. One of the earliest steps towards gender equality in Canada came in the form of passage of the Married Women's Property Act in 1884 in Ontario and 1900 in Manitoba (Benoit, 2000). The act allowed women the same rights as men in regards to the ownership of property. It allowed women to enter into property contracts and also purchase and own property. Other provinces followed suit although at a reduced pace. Another milestone towards equality happened in 1928 when the famous five led by Henrietta Muir Edwards went to the Supreme Court to seek clarification on whether the definition of “person” in the British North America Act, 1867 included women (Marsden, 2012).

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The court, while giving several reasons, said that “persons” in the act did not include women. An appeal to the Privy Council was launched whereby it was decided that the word “person” in the act is not precise and needs further classification and that if the word did not include women, then it should have been stated explicitly in the act. In 1930, a year after the court battle, Cairine Reay Wilson was appointed to the Senate becoming the first women to be appointed in such position. Another step came in the form of voting rights (Marsden, 2012). Before 1916, women were not allowed to vote in both the federal and provincial elections. Saskatchewan and Manitoba permitted women to vote in the provincial elections. Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario followed in 1917. In 1917 also, Canada passed the Wartime Elections Act, allowing the military women and the women who had male relatives taking part in the First World War to vote.

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Questions have however been raised about whether efficiency goals and gender equality are compatible. For example research by Razavi (2017) and Esquivel (2017) showed that gender inequality when it comes to wages may be good for economic growth as gender equality and growth are to some extend incompatible. Doss (2017), while arguing against the use of efficiency argument to promote gender equality, argues that low-income country which is depended on agriculture have proved that men are more efficient in using resources than women and their giving women equal resources as men will likely lead to inefficiency. With the view of this, Canadian feminists and gender equality activists have been able to make several huge steps towards gender equality. Justin Trudeau showed the recent example of steps towards gender equality, the prime minister whom a self-declared feminist.

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Despite so much progress over the years, there still much work to do to attain full gender equality in the country. Women are still economically, politically and socially sidelined in Canada. Income inequality is among the leading inequality as shown by the wage gap between the genders. The income inequality and discrimination is also indicated by the fact that those who engage in illegitimate economic activities such as prostitution are majorly women. According to Fedec (2002), women engage in prostitution because they are poor and underprivileged because they need money to pay their own and their family bills. Another possible challenge is the aspect of economic dependence. In Canada, there is a very large number of single parent homes that are meanly headed by women who in most cases are living in poverty.

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Basically, this shows that in the coming years, the issue of gender inequality will not be solely raised at the Canadian workplace but will be brought down to the household. This will form the next from in the fight for gender equality and it will need the involvement of both the men and women of Canada. Despite the many strides made in the fight for gender equality in Canada, all the stakeholders need to be aware of the impending challenges of the same. Toronto: Pearson, Prentice Hall. Berik, G. Efficiency arguments for gender equality: an introduction. Canadian journal of development studies, 38(4), 542-546. doi:10. Esquivel, V. “Efficiency and Gender Equality in Growth Theory: Simply Add-ons?” Canadian Journal of Development Studies38 (4): 547–552. doi:10. Fedec, K. Women and children in Canada’s sex trade: The discriminatory policing of the marginalized.

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R. Canadian women & the struggle for equality. Don Mills, Ont: Oxford University Press. Racco, M. July 5, 2017).

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