“Canada has made progress for gender equality, we are strides ahead from where we once were.” This is a refrain I often hear when engaging with individuals about gender equality. While it is important to acknowledge what we have accomplished, it is equally important to recognize how far we have to go. This is the stance that “Unfinished Business: A Parallel Report on Canada’s Implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action” takes, while highlighting the diverse experiences and forms of oppression women in Canada continue to face.
Compiled by organizations, trade unions, and experts in their fields, Unfinished Business is written thematically by chapter, focusing on priorities set out in the Beijing Declaration, while adding chapters focused on emerging issues for women and girls in Canada. The detailed and expansive chapters include: Indigenous Women and Girls, Metis Women and Girls, Inuit Women and Girls, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Criminalized and Imprisoned Women, and Women and the Environment.
IIWR-MB made a specific contribution to the report by Shayne Bloomfield-Wong, VP Youth, in the chapter “Immigrant and Refugee Women.” The chapter puts forward five sections that specifically impact Immigrant and Refugee Women, including Bill C-97: Changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Family Sponsorship, and the Canada Child Benefit. These pressing issues impact “migrant women who confront unique barriers related to their precarious status, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and violence (p.29).”
The parallel report will be “submitted to the UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia in advance of the Beijing +25 Regional Review Meeting (p.5).” Further, the parallel report assists civil society organizations and stakeholders in highlighting key challenges in the Canadian context prior to the upcoming 2020 Commission on the Status of Women 64 (CSW64). CSW64 marks a milestone as it is the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the five-year marking for the Sustainable Development Goals.
While we see progress being made in Canada regarding gender equality, we also must recognize ways we can continue to push for change. The parallel report highlights how in the past 12 years, Canada’s gender pay gap only decreased by 0.2% per year, meaning “at this rate, it will take 164 years to close the economic gender gap in Canada (p.8).”
We do not have 164 years to wait to achieve gender equality. The Beijing Declaration was put forward 25 years ago to prioritize and accelerate work for gender equality, and Unfinished Business recognizes the lack of action taken and the room for growth in all areas impacting gender equality for Canadian women. To learn more, see link for the full report below.
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