November is Woman Abuse Awareness Month, and that has brought a substantial amount of research across my desk that is released or publicized in conjunction with events and activities designed to mark the month and support awareness and advocacy efforts. One of these research reports caught my attention in a big way.
The World Economic Forum has been publishing the Global Gender Gap report since 2006. It tracks national gender gaps in economics, politics, education and health, and ranks countries according to these criteria. This allows for comparisons across regions and income groups, and over time.
Every year since its inception in 2006 , the report has ranked Iceland, Norway, and Sweden in the top spots (Finland made it to #3 this year). The forerunner to this report, Women’s Empowerment: Measuring the Global Gender Gap (published in 2005), ranked Canada in 7th spot. Since then, however, we have fallen significantly in the rankings.
2008 – 31st
2009 – 25th
2010 – 20th
The United States (19th this year) closed its gender gap, rising 12 places to enter the top 20 for the first time in the report’s five-year history. Our current federal government took power in 2006 and has obviously not made this a priority. When the subindexes are scrutinized, we find that Canada ranks 10th for women’s economic participation and opportunity, but 60th for health and survival, and 62nd for political empowerment. We are ranked 38th for women’s educational attainment.
Melanne Verveer, US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, points out that the report “shows a strong correlation between gender equality and a country’s prosperity and economic competitiveness.”
This month, as we contemplate the continued existence of woman abuse in 21st Century Canada, we might also reflect on the missing values that are reflected in Canada’s poor performance in shrinking the gender gap – if women and their contributions to Canadian life are indeed valued, this certainly isn’t mirrored in our ranking or in our failure to end the abuse of women. Like child abuse, we won’t be able to solve this problem with education alone, or prosecution alone, or treatment alone…we’ll need all of these things, and more.
My thanks to Krista at the Sexual Assault Centre (Hamilton & Area) for sharing the global report. For more information, go to www.weforum.org
or find the report at http://www.weforum.org/en/Communities/Women%20Leaders%20and%20Gender%20Parity/GenderGapNetwork/index.htm