This blog post was provided by Jessica Howard from the Canadian Women’s Foundation.
Every six days. That’s how often a woman is killed by her intimate partner.
2.4 million. That’s the number of women and girls living on low income.
75 cents. It’s the average earned by full-time working women for every dollar men make.
14 per cent. That’s the ratio of grade 10 girls who say they feel self-confident.
These are powerful indicators of the distance we have yet to climb to achieve true and lasting gender equality in Canada.
That’s why the Canadian Women’s Foundation focuses on ending gender-based violence, reducing poverty, empowering girls, and building inclusive leadership. These are the key ingredients in the recipe for gender equality. We don’t do it just for the sake of diverse women, girls, trans, and non-binary people—gender equality benefits everyone. Time and time again, research shows us that when women thrive and gender discrimination decreases, families and entire communities flourish.
It begins in our own neighbourhoods, schools, workplaces, and community spaces. We fund programs in every province and territory that focus on these areas.
“That’s all well and good,” you might think, “but what can I possibly do?” The inequities are so huge that it’s hard to know where to begin. The urgent truth is that we can’t sit in inaction. Progress easily backslides. In fact, since 2017, Canada fell three spots in the World Economic Forum’s global gender parity ranking.
But the good news is that, no matter what your gender, you absolutely can advance equality in your own life and sphere of influence. Here’s how:
- Challenge gender stereotypes.
With all the progress we’ve made, we’re still bombarded with gender stereotypes. Just look at media, advertising, and pop culture. Think of the things people may have said to you that made you wonder—even cringe. It’s not always easy to challenge stereotypes in the moment. For most of us, it takes practice. Even if you need to think through a response, you can go back to someone and say, “I’ve been thinking about what you said and I’d like to share a different idea …”
- Model and promote healthy relationship skills.
Through violence-prevention programs we support, teens learn about the marks of healthy relationships and the warning signs of abuse. They also get the chance to practice critical skills like setting boundaries, conflict resolution, assertive communication, and active listening. Couldn’t we all benefit from this, no matter our age? We can all practice and model these skills for our sake and for the sake of everyone in our lives.
- Build the culture of consent.
A recent survey we conducted found that, even after increased public discussions about sexual violence, only 28 per cent of people in Canada fully understand what it means to give consent. That was a stunning finding! The good news is that many agree that education is key to building stronger public understanding of consent. Consent isn’t only about sexual behaviour. Saying “yes” and “no” without pressure, coercion, or misunderstanding is a part of daily life. Think about all the ways you can open up dialogues on consent, particularly with children.
- “Repurpose” an event with friends and family.
Have a celebration coming up, like a birthday or potluck dinner? Get your friends and family involved by repurposing the event to also fundraise for the programs we fund across the country. You can launch a fundraiser on CanadaHelps in support of the Canadian Women’s Foundation.
- Push for an end to violence.
The sheer scale of gender-based violence in Canada is shocking. So many women, girls, trans, and non-binary people face high rates of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. Rates are higher for women who face multiple discriminations based on factors like race, disability, and age. For years, advocates have been calling for a National Action Plan to end this violence. The government has promised it—here’s your chance to push Canada to take the next steps on it. Send this online letter right now to show your support and make your voice heard.
- Better support those dealing with abuse.
Would you know what to do if someone turned to you for support for dealing with abuse? These tip sheets offer advice on how to help someone living with abuse and how to talk to teens about recognizing an unhealthy online relationship.
- Know where to go for help.
And do you know where someone dealing with abuse can go for help in your region of Canada? There are a range of community-based services, on top of what’s offered by emergency services. Check out this resource list on our website as a starting point. It’s empowering to equip yourself with this knowledge.
- Promote mentorship.
Because of its transformative impact on women and girls, mentorship is a key part of many programs we fund. We’re also a member of the Canadian Mentoring Partnership to grow mentorship opportunities in Canada, and we have created a Girls’ Group Mentoring Toolkit that organizations can use to start their own programs. Mentorship can boost confidence, provide positive role models, and encourage mentees to reach for their full potential. Can you be a mentor to someone? There may be opportunities in your workplace, school, and community. Check Volunteer Canada to see what’s available in your area.
- Promote inclusive leadership.
Women remain underrepresented in professional and political leadership roles. Systemic barriers and outdated ideas about what it means to be a leader still get in the way. Are there places you can promote a more inclusive vision of leadership? Do you have influence you can use to help bring under-heard voices to the centre?
- Give where the need and opportunity are greatest.
Advance gender equality by donating to grassroots programs and gender equality efforts supported by Canadian Women’s Foundation. They support those who need it most, transforming lives today and making Canada a more gender-equal place. Join our tireless community of changemakers and donate today!