Don’t go thinking Canada is perfect.

The Federal Standing Committee on Finance heard from a variety of speakers about economic disparities, including gender inequality, Tuesday in Charlottetown.

The only problem? The committee didn’t have any female members present.

Because women are such a tiny minority that such a committee can’t possibly be expected to represent them?

Jenny Wright, executive director of the St. John’s Status of Women Council, posted a tweet Tuesday highlighting the irony of the fact that she was about to speak in front of an all-male government panel about income inequality for women.


Nine members; nine men. Marvelous, isn’t it?

“Any standing committee like this needs to go for gender parity,” Wright told Yahoo Canada News after the presentation, adding the diversity of presentations called for a diversity of panelists. 

Other speakers included representatives for not just groups like hers but also small businesses and provincial governments, she said.

She addressed the committee members about the importance of using gender analysis tools when creating budgets, she said, and the need to include measures like national childcare programs and a national minimum wage in order to reduce gender wage disparity.

“I was urging them to listen to the World Health Organization and other organizations who have been calling on all governments to use gender assessment tools when they’re putting together budgets,” Wright said. She was disappointed that none of the panel members had any follow-up questions or comments on the matter when given the chance to respond.

That’s ok. They can speak for women.

The committee met on Persons Day, which celebrates the 1929 court decision that legally defined women as persons under law. It’s also one day after an Oxfam report highlighted the income inequality women still experience in Canada and around the world.

It’s astonishing, isn’t it? Less than a century ago, women were not persons under law. Women were like dogs and cats, pots and pans, goods and chattels. Stuff that men owned.

Other organizations and governments have provided frameworks that can be used by our government to implement budgetary measures that can help reduce these disparities, Wright said.

“The policies have to ensure that women are less reliant on services and contributing more to the economy,” she said. 

“What I got from that committee was absolute crickets. It was really frustrating to see that they couldn’t find a question for how economic policy relates to half the population.”

Half, yes, but the half that doesn’t count.

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