Oxfam scorecard tracking Liberal Government action on women’s rights shows progress – but more needed to turn feminist words into action

All governments have a role to play in fighting inequality. With a Feminist Prime Minister and a government committed to inclusive growth, Canada is well placed to really push the needle forward on gender equality and improve the lives of women living in poverty.

March 6, 2017

Ottawa – Despite noble intentions and some important steps in the right direction, the bold feminist rhetoric from the current Liberal government has not yet translated into meaningful policy and spending decisions, says a new scorecard and report from Oxfam Canada.

In the lead up to International Women’s Day, Oxfam Canada has published its first annual "Feminist Scorecard", tracking government action to deliver on a feminist agenda, both at home and abroad.

The scorecard reviews actions taken and progress made since November 2015 on eight policy and spending categories that affect the lives of women in Canada, and world-wide. They include: representation, taxation, climate & natural resources, violence against women, care work, global development, jobs, and response to conflict & crises. Scores are reflected on a stoplight range (red, yellow and green) where the Liberal government has either made very little, some, or significant progress.

"Government decisions can make a difference between women having good quality jobs or working for poverty wages. In many ways the government’s feminist words have yet to translate into concrete actions." – Lauren Ravon

Lauren Ravon, Director of Policy and Campaigns for Oxfam Canada, said: "All governments have a role to play in fighting inequality. With a Feminist Prime Minister and a government committed to inclusive growth, Canada is well placed to really push the needle forward on gender equality and improve the lives of women living in poverty. Government decisions can make a difference between women having good quality jobs or working for poverty wages. In many ways the government’s feminist words have yet to translate into concrete actions."

The scorecard shows solid progress in one of the seven thematic areas: representation. This reflects the meaningful steps taken by the Government to support women’s leadership by appointing Canada’s first gender-balanced cabinet and deciding to restore funding for women’s rights advocacy. Also noted are important policy and spending decisions in several other areas, such as launching a long-awaited national inquiry on violence against Indigenous women and girls, and announcing major new investments in childcare and women’s shelters.

On the whole, however, the scorecard reveals that the Liberal government’s bold feminist rhetoric has not yet translated into tangible policy and spending decisions. Status of Women remains sorely underfunded and Canada’s international aid budget is at a near record-low, even as the government seeks to demonstrate global leadership on women’s rights.

"On issues like childcare and international aid, the government’s commitments need to be matched by bold investments. To truly deliver on its feminist promises, the government also needs to take more deliberate action to tackle poverty" said Ravon.

The Government’s performance in the “jobs” category fared the worst. No tangible steps have been taken to close the gender wage gap and ensure living wages for the working poor, the majority of whom are women.

"We applaud the government for its support of women’s leadership, but are concerned that after campaigning on a promise of inclusive growth, few steps have been taken to ensure women’s work is fairly paid and equally valued," said Ravon. "t has only been a little over year and we feel optimistic of things to come, but it is important to hold the Government to account on what matters for women living in poverty, here at home and around the world."

"Together with many other women’s rights organizations across Canada, we will be looking for key investments on women’s rights and gender equality in the upcoming federal budget."

Oxfam Canada has been calling on the Government to stop inequality from spiraling out of control and make sure the next federal budget is a feminist budget that works for women. Their recommendations include:

  • Encouraging living wages in Canada and regulating Canadian companies working abroad to ensure decent work standards for women
  • Closing the gender pay gap and ensuring women are treated fairly at work no matter what their job
  • Investing in public services, like child care and elder care, that reduce and redistribute women’s unpaid care work
  • Increasing the aid budget to tackle global poverty and advance women's rights around the world.

“In an era of political backlash when hard-won rights are being clawed back, there is no better time for Canada to demonstrate its commitment to advancing women’s rights and gender equality,” added Ravon. “As the Liberal government embarks on the second year of its mandate, it is time to turn feminist words into action.”

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Notes to Editors: 

Contact information

Melanie Gallant, Media Relations Officer, Oxfam Canada at 613-240-3047 or melanie.gallant@oxfam.ca