BEZANSON: Why the gender budget is important to Canada — and what it got wrong

Kate Bezanson, Chair and Associate Professor of Sociology at Brock, wrote a piece recently published in the Globe and Mail about Canada’s first gender-equality budget.

Bezanson writes:

The new federal budget may have been Canada’s first gender-equality budget, but it didn’t please everyone. It has been criticized as a too-much budget (too much gender), a too-little budget (too little deficit reduction) or a pre-election budget (sprinkling relatively small investments across a number of policy areas).

But Budget 2018 is unlike any of its predecessors, representing a historic and aspirational statement of ambition, with potentially transformative social and economic consequences that go well beyond the budget-postmortem news cycle.

Significantly, it introduces a new architecture for analysis called Gender-Based Analysis Plus. GBA+ is an approach that asks how policies, spending and taxation measures differ for women and men, as well as across intersecting axes of social location (i.e., gender identity, income, Indigeneity). It is thus continuously self-reflective.

Budget 2018 sets benchmarks and invests in data gathering, creating metrics to track improvement or slippage across categories such as leadership, violence and poverty reduction. It sets a starting point for diagnosing and addressing inequalities, and –crucially – proposes legislative steps to ensure that future federal budgets also undergo GBA+ analysis.

Recognizing the economic consequences of an aging work force, Budget 2018 anchors long-term national prosperity to women’s economic equality, labour market participation and leadership. Canada’s labour force profile shows that an increase in well-educated women has not translated into proportional labour-market participation. Women’s overall participation rate remains 10 per cent below men’s, they face a gender wage gap above the OECD average, and women represent only one in four senior managers. As a result, Canada’s real GDP is more than 4 per cent below where it might be if more women were in the labour force. Increasing growth potential does more than help the economy overall; it raises living standards and tackles poverty.

Continue reading the full article here.

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