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International Women’s Day: 10 Interesting Facts

women worker strike

Photo: University of Toronto Press

While women’s rights and equality have come a long way in Canada, there is still much work to do.

To highlight the importance of International Women’s Day on March 8, check out 10 facts on women’s rights and inequalities in Canada. (You can also see the sources by scrolling down.)

Plus- scroll down to take special note of #10 – highlighting how OISE’s Centre for Women’s Studies in Education is making a difference.



1.     100 years ago – Women win right to vote in Canada

A century ago, thanks to the work of activists like Nellie McClung, in 1916, Manitoba became the first Canadian province to grant women the right to vote in provincial elections. Women in Ontario were given the right to vote in 1917. Today, 50% of our Federal cabinet ministers are women, setting a goal for so many other levels of government and governance that lag behind.


2.     Unequal Pay

According to Statistics Canada (2011), the gender wage gap in Ontario is 26 per cent for full–time, full–year workers. This means that for every $1 earned by a male worker, a female worker earns 74 cents. In 1987, when the Pay Equity Act was passed, the gender wage gap was 36 per cent. The gender wage gap has been narrowing slowly over time.


3.     Newcomers to Canada more vulnerable

Immigrant women may be more vulnerable to domestic violence due to economic dependence, language barriers, and a lack of knowledge about community resources. Newcomers who arrive in Canada traumatized by war or oppressive governments are much less likely to report physical or sexual violence to the authorities, for fear of further victimization or even deportation.


4.     Sex Trade Victims

Roughly 80 per cent of sex trafficking victims in Canada are women and girls.


5.     Missing and murdered Indiginous women

A recent RCMP report indicates there were 1,181 cases of missing or murdered indigenous women and girls dating from 1980 to 2012, including 1,017 homicides and 164 missing persons. Just last month, Canada’s Indigenous Affairs Minister Caroline Bennett said the number of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada is likely much higher than the total put forward in RCMP reports.

To put the number in context with the rest of the Canadian population, in 2010, when there were 582 known cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada (considerably less than current figures reveal), the Native Women’s Association of Canada said, “if this figure were applied proportionately to the rest of the female population there would be over 18,000 missing Canadian women and girls.” 


6.    According to Statistics Canada, both men and women are equally at risk of violent victimization – but men are much more likely to be assaulted by a stranger or someone outside their family. By contrast, almost half (49 per cent) of female murder victims in Canada are killed by a former or current intimate partner. Only seven per cent of male murder victims were killed by an intimate partner.


7.     Childcare

In 2010, women spent an average of 50.1 hours per week on child care, more than double the average time (24.4 hours) spent by men.

8.     Household chores

According to Statistics Canada in 2010, men reported spending, on average, 8.3 hours on unpaid domestic work, women spent more than one and a half times this amount—13.8 hours.


9.     Canada ranks 30th out of 145 countries in the Global Gender Gap Report

The study examined the gender gap based on economic participation and opportunity, education, political empowerment and health and survival. Canada came in behind Cuba (#29) and the U.S. (#28).

Learn about gender inequalities worldwide in the video above: the Global Gender Gap Report 2015. (World Economic Forum/YouTube)


10.    OISE’S Centre for Women’s Studies in Education

The Centre for Women's Studies in Education (CWSE) at OISE/University of Toronto. Established in July 1983, the Centre has been supporting feminist activism and scholarship at the University of Toronto and the broader community for over 30 years.

In addition to its feminist research and publishing,  CWSE organizes feminist courses, events, exhibits, reading groups, and fundraisers. It’s home to the annual International Women’s Human Rights Education Institute, Resources for Feminist Research (the oldest feminist journal published in Canada), and the Dame Nita Barrow Distinguished Visitor Program, which each year, brings an inspiring feminist activist to teach at the University of Toronto.





Women Given Right to Vote in Canada
Canada History Project:

Unequal Pay
Pay Equity Commission:

Immigrant & refugee women
Addressing Domestic Violence in Immigrant Communities: Critical Issues for Culturally Competent Services, Sheetal Rana, National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women:

Victims of sex trade
Canadian Women’s Foundation:

Aboriginal women:
RCMP report figures, Caroline Bennett response:

Native Women’s Association of Canada:

What Their Stories Tell Us: Research findings from the Sisters In Spirit initiative, Native Women’s Association of Canada, 2010, p. 18, and Voices of our Sisters in Spirit: A Report to Families and Communities(2nd ed.)., Native Women’s Association of Canada, referenced:

Domestic Violence
Gender Differences in Police-Reported Violent Crime in Canada 2008, Roxan Vaillancourt, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, p. 5:

Family Violence in Canada, 2011, Statistics Canada, p. 38, as referenced in:

Unpaid work
Statistics Canada:

Canada 30th out of 145 countries:
World Economic Forum 2015, as reported in Global News: