Efforts to close Canada's gender gap are moving at a rate so slow, it could take Canadian women 228 years to catch up to men.
Although Canada received an A+ in areas of health and education for women, a new report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), looks at Canada's gender gap in the last 20 years and reveals we lag behind in closing the gap for women in the areas of politics and income equality.
The CCPA used methods from the World Economic Forum's 2012 report on the global gender gap, to calculate Canada's scores in health, education, economics and politics. Overall, the country scored a .7 out of 1.0 where 1.0 represents no gap. However, this score rose a meagre 2.3 per cent in the last 20 years, a rate that would require 228 years for women to reach parity.
“I won’t be alive to see it close and neither will my children or my grandchildren," author Kate McInturff said in a statement.
But the biggest downfall for Canada is suffered by its female legislators, senior officials and managers. When looking at economics, countries are scored on labour-force participation, income and ratio of women to men in professional, technical and management positions.
“The economic gender gap is not due to a lack of qualifications, given Canada’s high levels of equality in access to education,” McInturff said. “In fact, the income gap is actually greater for women with university or college degrees than it is for those with high school diplomas. Having a university degree means a higher level of income overall, yes, but it also means facing a higher level of wage discrimination."
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Eva Aariak — Nunavut
Aariak, 58, worked as a journalist, operated a retail store and also served as the first languages commissioner of Nunavut before deciding to seek election in 2008. Aariak said she was "floored" and "disappointed" about being the only woman elected that year, and suggested the territory revisit a proposal for gender parity in the 19-member legislature. Aariak was chosen premier under the territory's consensus style government, and was sworn in as Nunavut's second premier and first female leader in Nov. 2008. She has four children and three grandchildren. <em>— The Canadian Press</em>
Kathy Dunderdale — Newfoundland and Labrador (Progressive Conservative)
The 60-year-old was a town councillor and deputy mayor of Burin before being elected to the legislature in 2003. She served as minister of innovation, trade, rural development, natural resources and as deputy premier. She was sworn in as the province's first female premier in Dec. 2010 after her highly-popular predecessor resigned. Dunderdale became Newfoundland and Labrador's first elected woman premier less than a year later, leading the Conservatives to a third consecutive majority government in Oct. 2011. She is widowed with two children.
Alison Redford — Alberta (Progressive Conservative)
The 47-year-old lawyer was first elected in 2008, after working for former prime ministers Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney. She also travelled the globe instituting democratic reforms in places like Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa. Redford served as justice minister before winning the party leadership and being sworn in as premier in Oct. 2011. She led the Progressive Conservatives to another majority victory in a provincial election in 2012, an upset after a slew of polls had suggested the Wildrose party was en route to ending the PC dynasty. Redford is married and has one daughter, Sarah.
Christy Clark — British Columbia (Liberal)
Clark became the second woman to serve as B.C. premier when she took office in March 2011, 20 years after Rita Johnston — the first female premier in Canada. The Sorbonne-educated politician was first elected to the legislature in 1996 and was appointed deputy premier and minister of education in 2001. The 47-year-old took a break for five years in 2005, working as a columnist and radio show host, but returned to politics in 2010 in a successful bid for the leadership of the Liberal party.
Pauline Marois — Quebec (Parti Quebecois)
Marois was a social services administrator, political attache and university professor before entering politics. She was first elected to the legislature in 1981 and held various cabinet portfolios in PQ governments, including finance, health, and education, as well as deputy premier for two years. She twice lost the leadership — in 1985 and 2005 — but was acclaimed as PQ leader in 2007. She lost the 2008 election, but led her party to a minority victory in Sept. 2012. Marois, 63, is married with four children.
Kathleen Wynne -- Ontario (Liberals)
Kathleen Wynne is Ontario first female premier, which was said to be <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/11/wynne-women-politics-canada-premier_n_2662863.html" target="_blank">considered a significant breakthrough for women in politics,</a> according to a national anadian Press-Harris/Decima survey. Wynne, who turns 60 on May 21, first was elected to the Ontario legislature in 2003 as the MPP for Don Valley West. She has three adult children and lives with her partner in North Toronto.
The forecast is even worse for Canadian women in politics. Although Canada now has six female premiers, the country's even further behind in equal representation in government. Currently, women only make up 25 per cent of the federal legislature.
"At this rate, Canada will close the gap on political participation in 392 years," McInturff said in the report. "Canada will not achieve the equal representation of women in Parliament, in cabinet, and as heads of state until the year 2404."
When women do hold positions in politics, Canadian advocacy group Equal Voice says they're still plagued by negative stereotypes of women's abilities, media unbalance and sexist perceptions.
Solutions to closing this gap aren't simple, especially if Canada is looking for change in the near future. McInturff said not only do women need to participate in greater numbers in government, but this representation also needs to be supported by funding robust civil society organizations that work towards gender equality.
In order to facilitate women's increased representation in government, government structure has to be easier to participate in, according to Alison Loat, co-founder and executive director of nonprofit advocacy group Samara and Huffington Post Canada blogger. Loat says shorter parliamentary sessions, reliable childcare for families and more staff support to members of parliament could encourage more women to pursue political involvement.
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