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Backbone: dance performance inspired by the ‘spine’ of the Americas

Scores of people gathered into the dimly lit and hushed lower-theatre of Berkeley Street Theatre to see the latest production featured by the Canadian Stage, a not-for-profit contemporary theatre company. It was the opening night, on Nov. 3 of Red Sky Performance’s latest indigenous contemporary performance —Backbone. Nothing could have prepared me for the invoking performance that was presented before me.

In anticipation of the performance, I had a chat with Red Sky’s founder and artistic director, Sandra Laronde. Laronde was inspired to create Backbone using her indigenous beliefs based on the ‘spine of the Americas.’

” I wanted to show the ‘backbone’ of the Americas in dance and music, a rocky spine ( Rocky Mountains) that has life, circuitry, electricity, and impulses that are alive and dynamic—much like the human spine. For indigenous peoples, there is a strong connection between the earth’s backbone and a human one, we are inseparable.” Laronde said.

Laronde’s connection to indigenous culture and interest in indigenous mapping inspired the core of Backbone. Indigenous mapping sees the land as a live and spiritual space. Instead of seeing the mountains (Rockies and Andes) as divided by borders, as traditional western mapping does, Indigenous mapping marks it as a continuous fluid.  Many characteristics of Indigenous mapping lays respect to Mother Earth and speaks about the meaning of the land instead of naming an area after a person or a discoverer.

Laronde asked herself how she could translate this concept into movement? With a team of nine dancers and one live musician, Laronde partook in collaborative choreography training with Jera Wolfe, Ageer, and Thomas Fonua to create the contemporary aesthetic of Backbone that visually and audibly appeals to the viewers.

The sounds that accompanied the dancers movement on stage was crucial to create visuals and situations that allows your mind to imagine and feel the moment. In the opening sequence of Backbone, dancers present themselves as a spine, with each movement in cohesion with the cracking  and popping sounds of human bones. The spine coming to life, unfolding, separating, and eventually merging together again.

This stunning performance was only possible through the use of talented dancers using every bit of their intense training. On average, the dancers trained from 10 AM to 6PM, Monday to Saturday, their training is akin to a high-level athlete, with many training since childhood.

With music being such a big component to this performance, Laronde turned to percussionist and composer, Rick Sacks, a long-time collaborator with Red Sky. Sacks was the 10th, but most crucial performer on stage, delivering sounds to accompany the dancers.

“Most of the music was performed live except for about 10 ambient cues from a computer in a booth. Rick played and/or triggered all the music. He triggered sounds from an electronic drum set and an electronic MalletKAT. The composition is made vital by ornamentation and punctuation that he could change each night depending on the dancer’s movements and the energy of the performance. This could only be the result of a live performance— it keeps it spontaneous,” said Laronde

Backbone marks the third back-to-back Toronto premiere that Red Sky has had since August. This is also their first collaboration with Canadian Stage, where Red Sky will be in residence for two years — the 17/18 and 18/19 seasons. Red Sky Performance was founded in 2000 and for the past 17 years they have focused on highlighting different traditional areas of indigenous dance theatre and music in a contemporary form.

Backbone runs from Nov 2-12 at the Berkeley Street theatre in Toronto. Red Sky Performance has also been invited to perform Backbone at Live Art Dance in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Nov 17. they will tour to Europe and Asia in January and February 2018-19. For more information visit redskyperformance.com.

 

Heritage Minute reveals immigrant culture of Kensington Market

Kensington Market in the heart of downtown Toronto has always felt like home to me. As an immigrant, I relate to its uniqueness as well as the essence and the spirit of the shop owners. I’ve walked around there, ate there, shopped there, and even partied there. There is something for everyone in the Kensington Market.

Canada’s latest Heritage Minute pays tribute to this immigrant-friendly neighbourhood. It’s also very much different than past Heritage Minutes —  instead of focusing on a single character and hiring an actor or actress to play the part, this Heritage Minute is an animation, depicting the journey of one shop over five decades.

Heritage Minutes are 60-second stories that use actors and costumes to mark an important part of Canadian history. This latest Kensington Market animation piece is the 88th presentation put together by Historica Canada and it is classed as a short documentary film.

The idea for the Kensington Market special came from filmmaker Michael Goldlist, who wrote and pitched the new Heritage Minute inspired by his personal family history. Goldlist’s grandfather, Charles Goldlist, opened a chicken shop in the market after he emigrated from Poland in 1948 as a Holocaust survivor. Goldlist ran the shop for decades and  lived among many other Jewish families who settled in the neighbourhood. The large immigrant population in Kensington Market opened the way to other cultures, as the chicken shop was later replaced by a Portuguese fish market, followed by a Jamaican music store. There is so much history to be found in the Victorian style buildings that not only housed immigrant business, but homes and families as well.

Next to Goldlist’s chicken shop, his neighbour William Mihalik opened a clothing store after he emigrated from Hungary in 1958, and today the clothing store takes over both properties. Tom’s Place is still thriving and very much family run by Tom Mihalik, his son Tom Jr., and his daughter Anett.

Tom was only 12 when his father started the second-hand clothing store, but he grew up in Kensington where he was surrounded by different nationalities. Today, Tom’s Place offers top-quality business suits.

The Heritage Minute was scripted by Goldlist and narrated by Tom Mihalik

“They thought my voice was very, very fitting because I still have an accent and they thought that somebody with my understanding of the area could speak from his heart, which I did.”

The stories of immigrants who found their first home and their first business in Kensington Market won’t end here, as there are many similar stories and experiences to be found. All you have to do is walk through the narrow streets and take in the bursts of different cultures.

Check out the latest Heritage Minute below:

What’s your favourite shop at Kensington Market? Let us know in the comments below!

Quebec passes bill prohibiting the niqab while using public services

Wednesday, Quebec’s National Assembly passed a law that will prohibit women from wearing the niqab while using public services.

Bill 62, ironically called the religious neutrality bill, bans public service workers, as well as people seeking government services, from wearing this any face-covering garb such as the niqab or the burka. This ban also extends to using public transportation.

It should also be noted that those who voted against the bill did so because they didn’t think it went far enough. They wanted to extend the ban to include people of authority, like judges and police officers.

To be incredibly clear: if a woman choses to wear the niqab for religious reasons, she will no longer be allowed to work as a teacher, doctor, or government agent. She will also not be able to use any of the services provided by these people and will not be able to take the bus to get there if she finds someone sympathetic to her beliefs.

The bill carefully avoids using the terms niqab or burka, and specifically says people must have their “face uncovered”, and claims this includes people who wear masks to protest. However, there are very few instances where a face would be covered and it is easy to deduce what population is being targeted by this law.

People can apply for an “exemption” to the rule; however the bill also specifies the religious accommodation “is consistent with the right for equality between women and men”, which would most likely rule out the niqab. The bill also says that “the accommodation must be reasonable in that it must not impose undue hardship with regard to, among other considerations, the rights of others, public health and safety, the effects on the proper operation of the body, and the costs involved.” This makes exemptions extremely subjective and difficult to receive.

The best part of the bill is the little disclosure at the end that says: “The measures introduced in this Act must not be interpreted as affecting the emblematic and toponymic elements of Québec’s cultural heritage, in particular its religious cultural heritage, that testify to its history.”

Honestly, if I was a politician in Quebec, I wouldn’t want this bill affecting the history or culture of my province either. It paints an absolutely despicable picture similar to other fascist countries.

I’m not a big fan of the niqab. Most women aren’t. But, I would never force a woman who chooses to wear one to remove it. I would also never prevent a woman from taking the bus or from picking up her child at school because of what she is wearing. This is not a security issue or a communications issue. This is racism in its simplest form. This is a group of people afraid of someone who dresses a bit differently. The law does not encourage “religious neutrality” as the government claims. It doesn’t prevent people from wearing a cross or a yarmulke on the bus or at the doctor’s office. It directly attacks one religion over others.

Personally, I’m hoping someone brings this bill to the Supreme Court. Quebec politicians should be ashamed at the blatant discrimination they just enacted in to law.

This is not my Canada. Is it yours?

The law is affective immediately.

Tens of thousands of women share #MeToo stories of sexual harassment

I don’t really have a #MeToo, but I stand with those who do.

I’m extremely fortunate (so far) and I know that. I have my own experiences with sexism — I’ve been treated differently by employers, mocked during interviews, and called a bitch by random strangers on public transit — but my stories are tame compared to those being shared on Twitter right now. And for them, as well as my friends and colleagues who have experienced sexual harassment and assault, my heart breaks.

Following the allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, women started to share their own experiences of sexual harassment and assault. The latest forum is Twitter, using the hashtag #MeToo.

This particular movement started with American actress Alyssa Milano, who asked her followers to reply with the words “me too” to show how widespread sexual harassment really is.

Tens of thousands of people replied to the battle cry, and that number is increasing with every minute. Some people simply used the hashtag, while others provide context describing their situations. The responses have been from people of all genders, sexual orientation, professions, and economic demographics.

On Oct. 13, women boycotted Twitter in support of actress Rose McGowan, who was blocked by the social media agency for her criticism of Weinstein and those who are supporting him. Now, it seems like women have reclaimed this platform, using it to voice their opinions and show exactly how prominent sexual harassment is in the twenty first century.

The number of people using this hashtag should shock us, but it doesn’t. One in four women in North America will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime, and of every 100 assaults, only six are reported to the police. These statistics are even more grave when you consider that most people don’t share their #MeToo stories.

The are many reasons for not doing, and no one should be chastised for choosing to remain silent. It could be the victim was told to be ashamed of their experiences. It could also be that they were made to believe the attack was their own fault, or that alcohol or their wardrobe was to blame. It could also be that they are not yet ready to talk about their traumatic experience, which is okay. As many people on Twitter pointed out, just because you don’t talk publicly about your experience or use the hashtag, doesn’t make your story any less real.

I am a bit worried that this campaign will fall on deaf ears. These are real women who were brave enough to share their stories with the world in hopes of inspiring change. But, who will listen? In the United States, the White House is in the midst of making abortion illegal and removing birth control from insurance packages. While Canadian government officials pride themselves on providing free abortion pills, the debate surrounding safe spaces has become much too political. Every day a new challenge presents itself. Women who do accuse their attacker are often shamed in courtrooms or treated as liars. What happens when the Weinstein story dies down? Will these women be ignored once again?

Every few minutes someone experiences a #MeToo. It could be a family member, a friend, or a coworker. It could even be you. It’s incredibly important to stand with the courageous women and men speaking up today and realize the struggle to end sexual violence is an uphill battle. It will take decades.

What will you do tomorrow to help?

Do you care about the sex appeal of your Prime Minister?

It’s started already. The “who’s hotter than who” rhetoric surrounding Canada’s political leaders. Apparently, if your Prime Minister isn’t old and balding (or orange with a toupee), this is what the press focuses on. It doesn’t matter what his or her policy is, whether or not they kept their promises, or what their plans are for the future. It’s all about their hair and winning smile.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m a woman who can appreciate a person’s good looks — but when it comes to the people who represent my interests on a national and international level, I tend to think values matter more. But, that’s just me.

It all started with the election of Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister. The world exploded with jealousy, talking about how sexy he was and how gorgeous his hair is. Newspapers, magazines, and tabloids all posted pictures of him boxing or taking his shirt off for a charity event. They even made some cringe-worthy jokes involving maple syrup. To this day, the media go into a frenzy whenever our Prime Minister steps on foreign soil. There is no escaping those selfies.

Canadians could deal with one good-looking politician. Sure, the press may love to take his picture, but after the first month of his term, most Canadians were over Trudeau’s charm. But now, Canada is in trouble. There are now two — yes, I said two — good-looking political leaders vying for the position of Prime Minister in the next election.

Newly-elected New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh has been praised for his ability to connect with young people. He is charismatic, and fashion-forward. Take a look at any of his photos and you can see a man who knows how to work a camera.

Earlier this week, Singh made a comment about his own luscious locks hidden beneath his turban, saying “I have more hair, and it’s longer, and it’s nicer.” Now, people are going crazy again. Articles have popped up calling those “fighting words”, making the correlation between hair and a vow to defeat Trudeau in the next election. Poor Conservative Party Leader Andrew Sheer has to read articles that compare his sex appeal to that of his colleagues. Yes, apparently sex appeal is the newest factor for a political leader. May I suggest a catwalk for the next televised debate?

While this whole debocle is pretty funny, it’s also a big problem.

First of all, as editor of Women’s Post, I must question whether or not this kind of talk would be the same if a woman were elected as party leader. Would sex appeal be as big of a factor? Would the mere inclusion of that kind of discussion be labelled inappropriate? Would reporters get in trouble for talking about a woman’s hair and makeup instead of her policy platform? No one is talking about Elizabeth May’s appearance, so why are we talking about Singh’s? If anyone was confused about the double standard between male and female politicians, they don’t have to look much further.

While a fight over luscious locks seems entertaining, and may be a good PR tactic to gain the attention of potential voters, it also distracts from the bigger issues facing our country. Unemployment, health care, education, and Indigenous reconciliation are just a few of the important issues our political leaders need to be knowledgeable of. Those are the issues that our leaders should be discussing. Instead, voters are treated to a pageant contest, where the contestants have to dress up, smile, and describe their ideal date.

This is not my kind of democracy, and I think a lot of Canadians feel the same way.

To be fair, a lot of this is the media’s doing. Politicians know that catering to the press is how they get coverage and reach voters — and journalists love to write about sex and controversy. But, the worst mistake a politician can make is to assume voters are stupid and easily distracted. Talking about your hair is not going to make Canadians forget to ask about your policies.

Being charismatic is a good thing. Being able to genuinely connect to Canadians is even better. But at what point do we stop talking about it and focus on the real issues?

Hopefully, it’s before the election.

Canada missing data for inclusion in ONE analysis on girls education

For the last five years, Oct. 11 has marked International Day of the Girl, where people are encouraged to reflect on the importance of education and human rights, especially when it comes to the empowerment of young girls. This mission, led by the United Nations, aims to bring global attention and action to girls that are in crisis around the world, including access to safety, education, and a healthy life. This year, the theme will be to help girls before, during, and after a crisis.

In honour of International Day of the Girl, ONE campaign released their second annual report on the ‘toughest places in the world for a girl to get an education.’ ONE is an organization that spans worldwide and is focused on issues like justice and equality, especially in African Nations. The report is based on a data taken from the 193 countries in the United Nations. Education is one of the most important factor affecting the prosperous growth of women. Eleven factors were taken into consideration.

However, out of 193 member countries, only 122 countries had enough data to be included in the report.  The top 10 worst countries for girls to get an education are mostly located in sub-saharan Africa and the order is as follows: South Sudan, Central African Republic, Niger, Afghanistan, Chad, Mali, Guinea, Burkino Faso, Liberia and Ethiopia.

Canada, France, and Germany were included in the list of 71 countries that did not meet the mark for proper data analysis. Canada only met four data points:

  • Girls’ upper-secondary out-of-school rate
  • Girls’ lower-secondary out-of-school rate
  • Girls’ upper-secondary completion rate
  • Girls’ government expenditure on education (as a per cent of total government expenditure)

All the data was collected from the UNESCO database. Some of the factors Canada was missing include girls’ youth literacy rate, mean years of school, primary teachers trained to teach, lower-secondary out-of-school rate and primary out-of-school rate. Canada is positioned as a country that supports girls education and development. However, there is lots of data missing to gather a full understanding of where girls stand in these developed countries. Canada is all about promoting feminism, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leading the way as a self–proclaimed feminist. Canada also featured two cities, Toronto and Vancouver, on the top ten cities for female entrepreneurs, but the data collected by ONE shows a lot of information missing about our own educational system.

ONE’s report hopes to highlight key issues that need improvement in order for girls to thrive. Their report indicated that the toughest places for girls to get access to proper education are amongst the poorest in the world, and are often marked as fragile states. Girls can face social, economic, and cultural barriers all when trying to access and stay in school. However, the report can conclude that just because a country is poor doesn’t mean that girls cannot get access to proper education . For instance, Burundi has the worlds lowest income, but ranks better than 18 other wealthier countries in terms of girls education. While all the countries on the ‘tough list’ deal with different issues, ranging from childhood marriage to poor literacy, the key issues are transparency and funding.

President and CEO of the ONE campaign, Gayle Smith said that “over 130 million girls are still out of school— that is over 130 million potential engineers, entrepreneurs, teachers, and politicians whose leadership the world is missing out on. It’s a global crisis that perpetuates poverty.”

In February 2018, Smith hopes there will be a Global Partnership for Education that supports education in developing countries. Various world leaders will be invited to fund this development and make a commitment to this cause.

Prime Minister Trudeau is, however, expected to make a few appearance in Washington D.C on Oct. 10 where he will attend the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit and Gala as well as participate in the Women One Roundtable discussion on Oct 11. It is hopeful that in the near future, more developed countries can make all issues of girls’ education more transparent because empowered girls make for powerful women.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Women’s History Month: How will you claim your place?

October is Women’s History Month in Canada and the theme this year is Claim Your Place — a bold call to action for women across Canada to keep pushing for inclusion and gender equality. It is a time to remember the achievements of other women in history and to support those around us. Women’s History Month is celebrated in March in the United States, Australia and some other countries and often coincides with International Women’s Day on March 8. However, in Canada, the month of October is reserved in recognition of the achievements of Women, coinciding with Person’s Day, which is celebrated on October 18.

Person’s Day is in recognition of the Person’s case of 1927, when five prominent Canadian women took on the Supreme Court of Canada and asked the following question: Does the word “person” in section 24 of the B.N.A Act include women? After five weeks, the Supreme Court said they were not. This answer was not satisfactory to the women who would later be known as the Famous Five. They took their case to the Privy Council of Great Britain, which at the time was the highest court in Canada. On Oct.18 1929, the Lord Chancellor of Great Britain answered the appeal by saying the word person should, in fact, include women.

This ultimately changed the status of women in Canada, giving them the right to be appointed to the Senate of Canada and increased participation in political and public life, including voting rights. The Famous Five were women that actively looked for reform movements in a quest for changing equality. Their names were Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby, Nellie McClung, and Henrietta Muir Edwards — they were journalists, magistrates and politicians. As Canada celebrates 150 years, this Person’s Day will also carry the #claimyourplace theme and will recognize women who have helped to shape Canadian democracy. There will be the annual Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Person’s Case that will honour Canadians who advance gender equality.

The awards have been given out since 1979 and include a long list of past recipients from various places across Canada. This year, there are five recipients, including someone from the youth category (age range of 15- 30). These women have made an outstanding impact to the lives of women and girls in meeting the goals of gender equality in Canada.

Over the past 150 years, countless woman have made their mark in history and found their voice. They have fought against inequality, helped reduce the pay wage gap, argued for better health services and for reproductive rights. Throughout all of these struggles, women have lifted each other up, helping one another reach their full potential. One can only hope this continues over the next decade.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a self-proclaimed feminist responsible for the country’s first gender-equal cabinet, issued a statement for Women’s History Month in which he remarked, “Our government is working hard to advance gender equality and ensure that all people, no matter their gender, have the opportunity to realize their full potential. We are working to strengthen women’s leadership in business and government and to provide young women with the opportunities they need to advance their careers.”

Throughout the month of October, honour those women and girls who inspire you by using the hashtag #ClaimYourPlace . Post inspirational photos, videos or stories on social media and share them with Women’s Post!

Let us know how you will #ClaimYourPlace in the comments below

Metrolinx Transportation Symposium: tolls, single-payment, and connectivity

Metrolinx hosted a Transportation Symposium Monday with the goal of hearing insight from transit leaders, residents, and influencers from across the region. With their 2041 Regional Transportation Plan still in the draft stage, Metrolinx is looking for reactions and input.

The day began with opening remarks from Metrolinx’s new CEO Phil Verster, who was only 30 minutes into the job. He talked about how the consultation process the transit agency is going through isn’t boring or redundant, but rather an important part of city building. “Great plans succeed because everyone is invested in it,” he said.

Leslie Woo, Chief Planning Officer for Metrolinx, provided an overview of the Draft 2041 plan. She said that over 10 million people will live across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Region by 2041. For that reason, the region must look past the Big Move and continue to work together and increase public transportation. Woo also warned about building based on technological advancements, saying the GTHA allowed a love affair with the car to influence how cities were designed. She doesn’t want Metrolinx to make the same mistake. At the same time, she admitted that no one can deny the importance of incorporating shared-services and autonomous vehicles into future plans.

Participants spent the rest of the day listening to panels on connectivity, customer service, and funding models. Many of the panellists touched upon the vulnerability of transit funding. While Canada is experiencing a boom of infrastructure funding on all three levels, it is not enough to make up for a 30-year gap. What’s required is dedicated funding for transit, perhaps through the direct use of road pricing and tolls, something that was called “inevitable” by one of the panelists.

Another common theme was the idea of a single-payment system. While fare integration is a necessity for Metrolinx’s 2041 plan, as well as any future Toronto Transit Commission plans, the idea of paying not only for public transportation, but also for car-sharing and bixi bikes, is a relatively new one. This would require one card or mobile app that customers could use across the board.

Above all else, the consensus was that transit needed to be comfortable, reliable, frequent, and be able to get customers to their destination without too many transfers.

For the love of pumpkin: the weirdest pumpkin spice products you can find

Fall marks the return of oversized sweaters, cozy weather, and everything pumpkin. It’s hard to ignore the fact that as soon as September arrives — pumpkin is in. This fashionable orange gourd has many by-products, including the popular pumpkin spice. The traditional pumpkin spice mix, often added to the Thanksgiving favourite, pumpkin pie, is similar to a mixed spice blend using common flavours in the fall.

This blend includes nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, all spice, and cloves. Yes, you read that right, pumpkin spice doesn’t actually contain pumpkin, which is the most ironic part. Popular brands like Starbucks are celebrating over 10 years of the famous Pumpkin Spice Latte (or PSL) and it was only in 2015 that it was announced the drinks would actually contain real pumpkin puree instead of a mixture of artificial ingredients and colours.

There is no denying the pumpkin spice obsession. Almost every café has caught on to the fall trend of pumpkin scented or flavoured products. But, where do you draw the line? Here are some of the weirdest, unusual, and not so usual pumpkin/ pumpkin spice products you can find.

Pumpkin Spice Pizza

A New Jersey pizza joint, Villa Italian Kitchen, added something new this fall, with the pumpkin spice pizza. The pizza is your usual dough with savoury cheese— but forget the pepperoni; this one is topped with spoonfuls of pumpkin pie filling. Once out of the oven, even more filling is added. This one is a pumpkin pie overload.

Pumpkin Spice Deodorant

I really wish I was joking with this one, but Native, an American company that manufactures all-natural deodorants for men and women, recently released their latest inspiration. This deodorant is a limited–edition pumpkin-spice-latte-scented product. The product description reads, “Inspired by the PSL, this deodorant makes the perfect holiday gift. Subtle notes of pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.”

I really can’t think of a better way to describe your love for PSL—by smelling like it.

Pumpkin Spice Soap/ Lotion/ Scrub

If the deodorant is not enough for you, there is a very real trend of people making homemade pumpkin spice soaps. There are lists of various recipes people have used to make this pumpkin spice scented product. The Farmers’ Market Soaps even offers this product made using organic avocado, blueberry butter, shea butter and added hints of pumpkin spice preserves. This one is less of a shock considering brands like Bath and Body Works, which literally offers every fall scent from marshmallow-roasted, spiced, and pumpkin-apple products.

 

Pumpkin Spice Rum

You can now get intoxicated on pumpkin spice! Once again, I am not making this one up. Captain Morgan Rums has added pumpkin spice to their traditional alcoholic beverage to “add some fall spice to your favourite cocktails.” Pumpkin spice alcohol is definitely a growing trend, as this rum joined the already existing pumpkin pie vodka from Pinnacale and the list of craft pumpkin beers available at the LCBO. This pumpkin spices rum is called Captain Morgan— Jack-O’Blast and is sold in an obvious pumpkin shaped bottle. Because pumpkin!

 

Pumpkin Spice Pet Treats
Your pets can enjoy pumpkin spice just as much as you do. Greenies’ dental treats is just one small example of chewable dog treats in pumpkin spice flavour. There is also a long list online where people can find the recipes for these treats for their canine pet.

I think I’ve said the word pumpkin enough times for today. Let us know in the comments below some crazy pumpkin spice themed products you’ve come across.

Canada ranks number one for civil service gender equality

By Leanne Benn

The Global Government Forum, an organization that measures standards for gender- equality worldwide, ranks Canada as number one out of any G20 country. This ranking places Canada at the top of the civil service sector for having women in leadership positions.

According to the Women Leaders Index, released in September 2017, 46.4 per cent of senior civil servants in Canada are women. There is a 3.3 percentage point difference between Canada and Australia and the gap has been slowly closing over the past few years.

The data was gathered over three years from 2013 to 2016 and measured gender equality in leadership roles in G20 and EU countries. The goal of this forum is to highlight the countries that are leading the way for gender equal roles in federal or national governments, therefore encouraging other countries to do the same.

This is the first year the data has included research from countries outside the G20 with the inclusion of European Union countries. The data collected from the EU shows that these countries are more advanced in terms of gender equality than those included in the G20. Among 28 EU nations the average is 40 per cent high-ranking women.

This data analysis covers a broader base and as a result new fields of analysis were included this year. In addition to civil service leadership and women elected into political office, the forum examined women on private sector boards. It should be noted that in these sub-sector datas collections, Canada ranked low for women in private sector boards.

The discussion of gender inequality for high ranking positions has been long analyzed and female talent should be promoted within government structures. Canada’s most senior civil servant as of January 2016 was Janice Charette. Charette, in response to the index, said public service should represent the population in order to show they are doing the best job possible. The polices and the practices of high ranking countries can have an internal impact on HR management, staff development, recruitment, and the promotion of women.

“If you look at all the research on this, the value proposition for gender equality and diversity in leadership positions, whether in the public sector or the private sector, is very clear,” she said in the report. “And I would say that in the public sector it’s even more important, because if we are to have credible public service structures and institutions that are able to give good, thoughtful, strategic advice to governments, they have to understand and represent the population they are there to serve. That’s absolutely critical.”

However, there must be a political appetite in order to change the public leadership roles for women. For instance, both Canada and France have a cabinet that includes 50 per cent women. A strong political role is required for gender diversity and this is the only way conditions may improve.

How do you feel about Canada’s ranking and what are your thought on gender equality on a global level?