Friday, November 14, 2008

What's all the Feminist Fuss?

"I'm not a feminist, but..."
"I wouldn't say I'm a feminist, but..."
"...but I'm not a feminist."
"I'm a humanist, not a feminist. Feminism is dead."

Really. I've heard these disclaimers over and over again. The look of discomfort and defence in friends' eyes when I respond, "I am, absolutely I call myself a feminist and proud of it." This week the 2008 Global Gender Gap Report was released by the World Economic Forum. Reuters reports that:

Averaging 130 national scores, the report found that girls and women have reached near-parity with their male peers in educational attainment, health and survival, in both rich and poor countries.
Indeed, the most common argument against the necessity of feminism. To the contrary, though, Laura MacInnis continues:
But economically, in terms of workforce participation and earning opportunities, and politically, in terms of empowerment, the gap between the sexes remains large.
In 2007's report, Canada was ranked at #18, ahead of the United States by 13 points. In 2008 the United States was ahead of Canada by 4 points and Canada fell to #31. Canada scored #30 in estimated earned income. Average for female was (USD) $25,448.00; male $40,000.00. The most inequality for Canada was Political Empowerment. The female to male ratio of women in partliament as 21:79; Women in ministerial positions was 16:84 and Years with female head of state was 0:50 (0.1 - Kim Campbell for all of five months). To view the complete report for Canada, click here.

Women and men are NOT equal in Canada. Political empowerment has a long way to go towards equality and that seeps into the women's psychologies. It seeps into mine. Wage inequality affects my well-being and sense of respect every day I sit down in my office. Sure, Canadian women have equal educational attainment, health, and survival but there is much work to be done. I embrace feminism for this reason. There's enough voices claiming it's over. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, "be the change you want to see."

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