Infant crawling up concrete steps

Baby Steps Are For Babies: Why Waiting 100 Years For Gender Equality Isn’t Necessary

Are you willing to wait 100 years for gender equality?

Are you okay with…

“Slow and steady”?

“Celebrating small wins”?

“Incremental progress on diversity”?

These are some of the messages we hear in the media about gender equality.

I’m not okay with these messages and I bet you aren’t either. Instead, I suggest you move forward with Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘s concept of “the fierce urgency of now”.

“What are we, in this era, to take from the duality of the fierce urgency of now? Absent this acceptance of responsibility for all, we are guilty of mistaking activity for action. This is the essential duality of the call to accept the fierce urgency of now; that we must act with all due alacrity, yet also with the thoughtfulness and seriousness of purpose appropriate to meaningful action.” – Carnegie Foundation

On International Women’s Day, the United Nations released a study on gender equality progress. The report was a 25-year update to the Beijing Platform for Action. The review of women’s rights shows that, despite some progress, no country has achieved gender equality.

It doesn’t make sense to keep rewarding small, incremental progress towards change. We need to increase pressure and urgency. Celebrating small wins is not the way forward.

A slow and steady mindset affects the actions we take and don’t take. Our governments follow suit.

We Have Adapted Quickly To Change Before

We have the power to demand change now. Our society is capable of withstanding significant cultural and social change in a short period of time.

If you think society can’t adapt quickly to changes, think again. The way we live our lives in 2020 would be unrecognizable to a person living 25 or 30 years ago. Most of us have personal computers in our pockets. This happened in the last two decades. We use technology to meet our partners, rent our homes to strangers, and sell our things to people around the world.

Could you have predicted how we’d all adapt to this? I doubt it. But we did.

We are constantly updating our coping skills to manage the changing social and cultural landscape.

Canada can and must make substantial policy changes and interventions to advance gender equality.

Gender Equality Benefits The Canadian Economy

Canada can and must make substantial policy changes and interventions to advance gender equality.

According to McKinsey & Company, gender parity in the Canadian economy would have the following economic benefits:

  • Potential to add $150 billion in incremental GDP in 2026
  • 0.6 percent increase of annual GDP growth
  • Equivalent to adding a new financial-services sector to the economy
  • More women in high-productivity sectors
  • Raise women’s participation in the labour force

Why We’re Accepting Slow Progress On Equality

Programs designed to create small, incremental changes towards gender equality are an easy choice for institutions and government because they:

  • Are less likely to trigger resistance or criticism
  • Don’t disrupt organizational culture or norms
  • Have a purpose typically linked to a positive business outcome.  This protects it from resistance but also decreases the likelihood of advancing gender equality.

Ultimately, the evidence on gender equality tells us what we already know: this strategy is not working. We need a different way.

What We Can Do To Improve Gender Equality (In Way Less Than 100 Years)

Step 1: Adopt a “Now” Mindset

Decide that we are going to make rapid changes and approach gender equality with this no-nonsense energy.

Step 2: Apply Pressure

Put pressure on individuals in power to create systemic change. We need to create conditions that allow for rapid advancements.

Step 3: Create Shared Concrete Goals

Set ambitious targets and be transparent about progress towards these goals

The Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce will support this by:

  • Coordinating the consultation and information gathering about what women entrepreneurs need and want to be successful in a way that the government bureaucracy cannot
  • Serving as the representatives of our members in discussions with the government on new policies in a way that our members cannot
  • Being the trusted and knowledgeable agent guiding this process
  • Reaching out to our partner network to bring together other organizations and agencies to collaborate and contribute to the process, as needed

Woman-identified business owner? JOIN US.

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