Canada slipped four places this year on a global index ranking women’s equality and well-being.
The 2019 Women, Peace and Security Index has placed Canada in the 11th spot, down from 7th last year.
The index ranks 167 countries across 11 indicators within the banners of inclusion, justice, and security, such as representation in government, financial access, intimate partner violence, community safety, and legal discrimination.
Norway nabbed the top spot, followed by Switzerland and Denmark. At the bottom of the list were Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen. The United States ranked 19th, up from the 22nd spot two years ago.
“The new ranking isn’t necessarily an indication of a regression of Canadian policies that affect women’s well-being, but rather shows a stagnation,” Deborah Owusu-Akyeeah, a feminist campaigner and anti-violence advocate in Ottawa, told Global Citizen.
She says the index reflects a reality of other countries excelling in creating and sustaining domestic policies that benefit women and other gender minorities. For example, Norway is ranked as the best place in the world to be a mother, as it offers parental leave of 46 weeks at full pay, and has universal child care. This is thought to be a contributing factor in why the country is also ranked number one in the world when it comes to a productive workforce. Canada does not have a universal child care program.
The index reveals Canada’s areas of strength to be financial inclusion (99.9% of women can access banking) and non-discriminatory work norms. This is indicated by the percentage of men who believe it is unacceptable for women to work — which was 0% in Canada. Comparatively, Poland is at 8%.
According to the index, 25% of women in Canada said they did not feel safe at all times in their communities. This number is at 50% for Australia and Latvia.
While Canada is vocal about supporting women’s equality and feminism globally, though the country’s Feminist International Assistance policy, Owusu-Akyeeah says there is a disconnect between foreign aid policy and practices closer to home, which impact the most marginalized women.
“The recent release of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report shows a drastic gap on women’s well-being when you aggregate women’s race and/or class,” she said. “If Canada doesn’t reflect its feminist leadership domestically, through increasing support of domestic women’s rights groups or integrating feminist policy approaches in all government departments, we risk continuing this trend [declining on the index].”