Canada has ranked 20th on a global report on the gender gap, scoring particularly poorly on wage equality and political empowerment for women.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report places Canada behind a slew of northern European countries that dominate the list, but also behind countries such as Cuba, Nicaragua and South Africa.
The U.S. performed slightly worse than Canada, placing 23rd, though it beat Canada on the presence of women in the workplace. On that score, Canada ranked ninth. But the country ranked 35th when it came to wage equality, and 41st on political empowerment.
The report’s data shows Canada has been slowly improving on gender issues, but other countries have been improving faster, and Canada hasn’t moved up on the rankings. As recently as 2006, it was in 14th place.
The report said Canada has “fully closed” the education gap between men and women.
Though the report’s data shows no country has achieved gender equality, Iceland appears to be the closest, ranking first for the fifth time on the survey. At the other end of the rankings, Yemen took the dubious honour of having the worst record on gender equality. Check out the list of best and worst countries on gender equality:
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Of the 136 countries surveyed, 86 showed improvements this year, the report said.
In Canada, the issue of gender inequality has recently focused on the lack of women in executive leadership positions.
The Ontario Securities Commission is exploring a proposal to have publicly traded companies voluntarily disclose the number of women in their boardrooms, as a way of encouraging hiring more women.
Some observers say that voluntary disclosure will change little, and quotas may be needed.
A number of European countries and the EU itself are looking at proposals to set quotas for women in the boardroom.
And Australia is moving ahead with a plan that will see publicly traded companies disclose not only the proportion of women on their boards, but also a number of other “gender equality indicators” such as pay equality and flexibility for employees with families, the Financial Post reports.