Gender Equity in Calgary – Working to Close the Gap

This post was written by Bronwyn Bragg, a member of the Women’s Centre Social Policy Committee.

Every year, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives releases a report on the best and worst places to be a woman in Canada. The 2017 report placed Calgary at #22 out of the 25 cities that were ranked. It reports that Calgary continues to have one of the biggest wage gaps between men and women, and Calgary is also near the bottom of the rankings for cities when it comes to political leadership. For example, only three of Calgary’s fourteen City Councillors are women.

In an effort to reduce barriers to gender equity in the City of Calgary, City Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra brought a Notice of Motion to City Council in July 2017. The Notice of Motion called on the administration to report back on three areas related to Gender Equity and Diversity:

  • Advancing the profile and awareness of gender equity and diversity within the community;
  • Advancing the profile and awareness of gender equity and diversity on the City’s Boards, Commissions, Committees and Council;
  • Advancing the profile and awareness of gender equity and diversity within The City’s workforce

On Monday, May 28, 2018 City Administration will share their report and recommendations at City Council. The report was presented to the Standing Policy Committee on Community and Protective Services (a committee of Council) in the beginning of May. The Women’s Centre Public Policy Coordinator spoke on behalf of the Centre in support of the report to Committee at the May 2 meeting, along with several other community members.

The Women’s Centre believes bringing a gender and equity lens to municipal policy makes a big difference in the lives and experiences of women. For example, women and men may use public transit in different ways, including based on their different roles in the family and how much paid or unpaid caring work they are engaged in. On average, women using transit may make more stops, need more time for transfers, or may be in greater need of a transit subsidy than male counterparts due to the fact that there are more women than men who live on low income in Calgary. They may also – as has been highlighted in the report and elsewhere – feel less safe going home at night, in city streets or on transit.  These differences need to be taken into account when city governments design transit systems and as they make decisions about funding for transit.

The experiences of women and men using public transit is only one example of the way adding a gender lens to the policy making process benefits communities. The report to council emphasizes the importance of taking an intersectional approach to thinking about gender equity. This means understanding the way women are differently positioned depending on a variety of factors, including their income, race, ethnicity, immigration status, and ability and so on. Research shows when more diverse perspectives are represented in policy and in decision-making roles, the more representative those policies and decisions are of the whole community, and the more inclusive and equitable the final outcomes.

The report on gender equity and diversity recommends the City of Calgary develop a strategy to advance gender equity and diversity as well as complete an assessment of gender equity to inform the strategy. We believe that if the city commits to making decisions in a more inclusive way, and designing spaces and services that work better for diverse populations – of women, men and gender-diverse people – it will go a long way to improve the quality of life for all Calgarians.

If you’re interested in learning more about the work being done for gender equity in Calgary, join us on June 6 for our Gender Equity in the City Social Issues Discussion. We will be joined by Alison Kent, Issues Strategist for the City of Calgary. Alison was one of the primary authors of the Gender Equity and Diversity Report to Council.

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