Gender equality achievements
Actions have been taken to advance gender equality and empower women and girls in Canada and around the world. Learn more about the important achievements leading towards progress on gender equality.
On this page
- Economic prosperity
- Gender-based violence
- Leadership and democratic participation
Women are key to Canada’s economic recovery. When women succeed, Canada’s economy thrives. Recent initiatives in this area include:
- convening a Task Force on Women in the Economy to help more women get back into the workforce and to ensure a feminist, intersectional response to the pandemic and recovery
- working to increase the number of women in STEM, the skilled trades, and other well-paying fields to close the gender gap
- investing in women-led businesses to provide women entrepreneurs with access to financing, talent, networks and expertise
- supporting women’s economic security through investing in the creation of a Canada-wide learning and childcare system and flexibilities for parents raising
- taking action to address the gender wage gap through pay transparency measures in the federally regulated sector, moving forward with a proactive pay equity regime and undertaking modernization of the Employment Equity Act
- requiring a gender statement in the federal budget to examine the gender impact of budget measures and strengthening the Canada Child Benefit so that it continues to help families that need it most and supporting affordable child care across Canada
- investing $40 billion on a National Housing Strategy to help reduce homelessness and improve housing for Canadians in need, with at least 25% supporting women, girls and their families.
Milestones for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)
- Providing girls and women with with diversified educational paths and career choices ensures our future leaders reflect our diversity as Canadians.
- In 2016, 33% of STEM graduates are women, but only 23% are working in this field.
- We are making waves—increasing the number of women in these fields will fuels innovations that improves the lives of all people across the country.
- Women leading in STEM,
- 2017 – Dr. Theresa Tam is appointed as Canada’s first woman Chief Public Health Officer. As a physician with expertise in immunization, infectious disease, and emergency preparedness, she is leading Canada’s COVID-19 public health response
- 2017 – Mona Nemer becomes Canada’s first woman Chief Science Advisor. Born in Lebanon, as a young student, she advocated to expand her school’s curriculum so girls could study science at higher levels and went on to complete a PhD in chemistry at McGill University in 1982 [photo].
- 2020 – Of the 14 chief medical officers and public health officers battling COVID-19 in Canada, seven are women.
Milestones on women’s economic participation and prosperity
- Everyone deserves to receive equal pay for work of equal value.
- 2001 – The Canadian Human Rights Commission recommends employers examine their pay practises to ensure women and men receive equal pay for equal work – workers should not have to file a complaint before action is taken on pay equity.
- From 2001 to 2004, the Bilson Task Force fuels progress in our pursuit of pay equity and recommends changes to the law and the role of unions so that we can not only achieve—but maintain—pay equity.
- The rate of women participating in paid work increases by 12% in between 1995 and 2020.
- The pay gap decreases by 6 cents between 1997 and 2019. Women earn 88 cents for every dollar earned by men.
- 2018 – Parliament adopts the Pay Equity Act to ensure fair compensation of men and women in the federal public service and federally governed institutions.
- 2019 – Karen Jensen is appointed as Canada’s first Pay Equity Commissioner [photo].
- We have lessened the pay gap and are gaining momentum. Let’s continue to work for parity.
Gender-based violence continues to be a significant and preventable barrier to gender equality. Recent initiatives in this area include:
- invested $100 million in emergency funding to organizations providing supports and services to individuals experiencing GBV during the pandemic COVID-19 crisis
- provided $601 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, through Budget 2021 to advance towards a new National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence
- worked with Provincial, and Territorial Ministers responsible for the Status of Women and endorsed the Joint Declaration for a Canada free of Gender-Based Violence (GBV)
- contributed to the 2021 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual Plus (2SLGBTQQIA+) People National Action Plan: Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People called for by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls by launching the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People
- passed a legislation to ensure that federally regulated workplaces, including Parliament Hill, are free from harassment and sexual violence
- invested over $200 million across government to prevent gender-based violence, support survivors and their families, and create more responsive legal and justice systems
- invested over $13 million in over 100 commemoration initiatives to help honour the lives and legacies of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, including 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. This respond to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ interim report, issued in November 2017.
- invested $100 million in over 1,200 organizations, including shelters, sexual assault centres, women’s organizations and other organizations to help ensure that nearly 800,000 women and children experiencing violence and abuse across the country have a place to turn to
- made statistical and research reports available to the public from three important large-scale surveys: the Survey on Safety in Public and Private Spaces, the Survey on Individual Safety in the Postsecondary Student Population, and the Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Workplace.
Recent initiatives to advance gender equality include:
- changed gender designation in Canadian passports to support LGBTQ2 rights and permit people who do not identify as female or male to acquire passports that better reflect their gender identity
- enshrined gender identity as a protected right under the Canadian Human Rights Act and amending the Criminal Code to include violence motivated by gender identity as a form of hate crime through Bill C-16, which received Royal Assent in June 2017
- become the co-chair of the Equal Rights Coalition, the first inter-governmental network to promote and protect human rights of LGBTQ2 people around the world
- announced $20 million through the Budget 2019, to support the capacity-building of 77 Canadian LGBTQ2 organizations
- announced over $30 million to improve socio-economic outcomes for LGBTQ2 people in developing countries
- included major investments in Pride events across Canada through the Federal Tourism Growth Strategy
- announced increased support for LGBTQ2 refugees fleeing violence and persecution through the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Partnership
- set aside $2 million over two years under the Building Communities through Arts and Heritage program for Pride and LGBTQ2 events.
Milestones on LGBTQ2 rights
- Everyone deserves to feel safe and secure, to live free from discrimination and persecution, and to express themselves fully, no matter who they love or how they identify.
- 1996 – Sexual Orientation is added to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- 2005 – Same-sex marriage is legalized across Canada.
- 2009 – The first Trans March in Canada is organized during Toronto Pride.
- 2017 – Gender expression and gender identity are added to the Canadian Human Rights Act.
- 2017 – The Government of Canada makes a formal apology for the historic purge of LGBTQ2 members from the Canadian Armed Forces, RCMP, and civil service.
- 2019 – Gemma Hickey Becomes one of the first Canadians to receive a gender-neutral birth certificate and passport.
- Let’s celebrate all those who work to advance gender equality and continue to create a better and equal world for all.
Canada is proud to be recognized as a world leader in advancing gender equality. Recent initiatives in this area include:
- committing to advance gender equality in Canada and abroad in the context of the Generation Equality Forum (GEF), namely by leading the Action Coalition on Feminist Movements and Leadership. Canada has been working with partners, including other countries, civil society, and the private sector, to implement concrete actions and commitments to make progress in this area.
- supporting the feminist movement in Canada by engaging Canadian civil society organizations (CSOs) on key gender equality issues
- participating in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW), and negotiating Agreed Conclusions, where we help shape the work being done to advance the rights of women and girls around the world, and where there is meaningful engagement with CSOs
- preparing its Tenth Report under the Convention of Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
- supporting efforts to advance women’s economic empowerment in the G7, G20 and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
- becoming the Vice President of the Inter-American Commission on the Status of Women within the Organisation of American States
- attending the inaugural meeting of the Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Action Group in May 2021
- strengthening United States bilateral relations by exchanging on key areas of interest, such as addressing gender-based violence (GBV) and implementing a Gender-based Analysis (GBA Plus).
- working together with Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom to advance the shared goal of gender equality and women’s empowerment by exchanging information, good practices and strategies; and align efforts in international fora, such as the UNCSW
- organizing Canada-France Seminars on Gender Equality and Public Governance in 2021 to discuss gender equality and diversity in national public administrations
Intergovernmental relations are key to advance gender equality across Canada. The Department works with all provinces and territories through the Federal-Provincial and Territorial Forum of Ministers responsible for the Status of Women. Recent initiatives include:
- The Federal-Provincial and Territorial Forum provides ministers a unique opportunity to lead and influence change on current and emerging issues related to gender equality and the status of women in Canada. For instance, in 2020, the forum presented an important platform to discuss, share information and bring expertise on how to respond to COVID-19’s gendered and intersectional Impacts.
- In January 2021, during the annual FPT meeting, Ministers responsible for the Status of Women endorsed the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministerial Joint Declaration for a Canada free of Gender-Based Violence. This declaration reiterates the longstanding commitment of the federal, provincial and territorial governments in the fight against gender-based violence (GBV) and the advancement of gender equality for people across Canada. The intergovernmental relations were key in ensuring the achievement of this historic milestones.
- The FPT Forum provides a venue for a meeting between Ministers and the National Indigenous Leaders and Representatives (NILRs) to discuss priority issues related to Indigenous women. Ministers and NILRs have met annually since 2017.
Leadership and democratic participation
Inclusive participation of diverse women and girls – Indigenous and Black women, women of colour, women from LGBTQ2 communities, those who live with disabilities and living in rural or remote communities – is essential for promoting gender equality and diversity, and for improving the economic, social and democratic lives of Canadians. Recent initiatives include:
- launching the 50-30 Challenge to promote diversity in corporate Canada
- investing 100$ million over five years through Women and Gender Equality Canada’s Feminist Response and Recovery Fund to fund projects to promote women in leadership, end violence against women and girls, and improve women’s economic security and prosperity
- establishing a new merit-based, open, and transparent approach to selecting high-quality candidates for approximately 4,000 Governor in Council and ministerial appointments on commissions, boards, Crown corporations, agencies, and tribunals across the country to reflect Canada’s diversity and close the gender gap
- amending the corporate governance laws to support the increase of women’s participation on corporate boards and in senior management positions, including, the recent passing of Bill C-25 which amends the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA) requiring federally-incorporated organizations to publicly disclose the diversity of senior management and boards of directors.
- developing and implementing an action plan to increase the representation of women, Black and racialized Canadians, persons with disabilities, Indigenous Peoples and LGBTQ2 Canadians in hiring, appointments and leadership development within the Public Service
- appointing women to key leadership positions such as Governor General, Government House Leader, RCMP Commissioner, Commandant of NATO Defense College and Judge Advocate General
Milestones on women in leadership roles and democratic participation
- When more women and people from diverse gender communities take on leadership roles in politics and civic life, we create healthier and more inclusive communities that better reflect our diversity as Canadians.
- Graphic depicting the increase of women elected to parliament from 1/5 in 1997 to 1/3 in 2019.
- 1993 – Jean Augustine becomes the first African Canadian woman to be elected to Canada’s House of Commons and led the campaign to create Black History Month.
- 1993 – Kim Campbell becomes the first woman to serve as Prime Minister of Canada.
- Graphic depicting 2015 – an equal number of men and women are appointed to Cabinet for the first time.
- Graphic depicting 2020 – Senate parity.
- We have made so much progress—just imagine what we will achieve in the years to come as new trailblazers rise and advance gender equality in Canada.
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