International Women’s Day is happening on Tuesday March 8 and I was reflecting on how (not so) far we’ve come to Gender Equity and Gender Parity. A report from the World Economic Forum that was released last year titled the “Global Gender Gap Report 2021” examines the evolution of gender-based gaps in four areas: economic participation and opportunity; educational attainment; health and survival; and political empowerment. I’ll endeavor to provide the quick executive summary for you.
Key points in this report state that progress towards gender parity have stalled in many of the large economies and industries. In fact, the global gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 years to 135.6 years! Due to the pandemic, women have been losing jobs at higher rates than men partly because sectors that have been disrupted by lockdowns have a higher representation of women in them. Sectors with low representation of women are also those in fast-growing jobs of the future like cloud computing, engineering and other STEM related disciplines showing that women are missing out on industries with the greater amount of growth.
The report does go on to offer ideas on gender equality and recovery opportunities while also highlighting ways that other countries have worked towards closing their gender gaps. Iceland for example has ranked top of the list as the most gender-equal country in the world while North America (Canada and the US) is one of the more improved regions from 2020 with a result stating that it’ll take only 61.5 years to close the gender gap.
With this information in mind, there were some seminal studies done last year examining the “She-Cession” and some ideas on a “She-Covery”. If you aren’t familiar with these terms “She-Cession” refers to the 2020 recession when COVID hit that there were greater job losses for women than men. “She-covery” is a term that traditionally followed recessions where men lost jobs and women would enter the workforce to help with household finances. In this instance, she-covery is hampered as COVID has disproportionately affected women more due to increased childcare responsibilities and the loss of service-sector jobs.
Armine Yalnizyan, an economist and an Atkinson Fellow on the Future of Workers, first coined the term of she-cession and identified that a lack of childcare is a chokepoint for a she-covery. She posits, “There will be no recovery without a she-covery, and no she-covery without childcare.” This prompted an examination of local policies and tactics to help improve the she-covery thereby improving our small businesses recovery in our communities from the effects of COVID’s recession. The first of such documents was shared by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and their report, “The She-Covery Project: Confronting the Gendered Economic Impacts of COVID-19 in Ontario”. Some of the major takeaways from this report include:
· Building in leadership and accountability to set collective targets, reward diversity, and including women in decision making bodies
· A short-term strategy for childcare and improving accessibility and affordability
· Focusing on critical skills and accelerating reskilling for workforce development
· Building in pathways for entrepreneurship and economic growth
· And flexible work arrangements to allow equitable access to work opportunities
Despite the sobering results from the Global Gender Gap Report from 2021, I am optimistic that we are working together to build a stronger recovery plan that will help shorten the gap and achieve gender parity at a faster pace. Circling back to my original reflection, what are you doing in your communities to support our women and encourage gender equality and gender parity? How do we, as economic developers, bring about change as we build our communities for the future? I look forward to connecting with you at this year’s EDCO Conference on April 5-7th and sharing ideas together.
Author: Tammy Hwang, B.Comm, (she/her)
Business Development Officer, Global Hamilton
City of Hamilton