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The feet and legs of running for the federal Liberal leadership are shown during a question and answer session at the party's women's caucus meeting in Vancouver on Aug. 22, 2006. (ANDY CLARK/Reuters)
The feet and legs of running for the federal Liberal leadership are shown during a question and answer session at the party's women's caucus meeting in Vancouver on Aug. 22, 2006. (ANDY CLARK/Reuters)

Canada advances on women's equality Add to ...

From Geneva, comes good news and bad in the World Economic Forum's latest rankings on women's equality, by way of the Global Gender Gap Report.

The good news is that Canada has jumped five places since last year:

"Canada…shows improvement on all four subindexes. Like the United States, Canada's strength lies in educational attainment and economic participation. Women's labour force participation rate is 75% while men's is 83%. The estimated earned income gap places Canada at 33rd in the world for this indicator; the perception of the wage gap for similar work places Canada at 18th in the world for this variable. Thirty-six percent of legislators, senior officials and managers and 57% of professional and technical workers positions are occupied by women."

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The bad news in this year's report is that we are still only in 20th place; worse, we have fallen behind the United States, which is now at the top of the heap in North and South America:

"The United States (19) makes a leap in the rankings this year, up from the 31st place in 2009 to enter the top 20 for the first time. The United States has a demonstrated strength in educational attainment, with very high levels of literacy for both women and men and very high levels of women's enrolment in primary, secondary and tertiary education, with women outstripping men in tertiary-level education. The United States places 6th in the world in terms of economic participation and opportunity. Women's labour force participation stands at 68% while men's is 80%. While new data show an increase in the female estimated earned income - up from US$ 25,613 to US$ 34,996 (PPP) - leading to some of the increase in the US ranking, the perceived wage inequality for similar work remains high, placing the United States at 64th in the world on this variable. Another core strength of the United States is the prominent numbers of women in legislative, senior official and managerial positions as well professional and technical worker positions. While political empowerment has not been a key strength of the United States in previous years, there have been some gains in the percentage of women in ministerial level positions in the current administration, up from 24% to 33%."

Iceland - a country whose female prime minister faces considerable economic and fiscal challenges - tops the rankings for the second consecutive year; the other Nordic countries - Norway Finland and Sweden - also continue as pacemakers in closing the gender gap. On the other hand, France has fallen from 18th to 46th place this year, largely as a result of the number of women in ministerial positions having fallen over the past twelve months.



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