The girls' rights organization urges Canadians to strengthen the gender movement, emphasizing that #WeMust not forget about women and girls in the Global South
TORONTO, March 7, 2018 /CNW/ - To mark International Women's Day, Plan International Canada today released new survey data highlighting the significant impact of the #MeToo movement on changing behaviours and perceptions related to gender in Canada.
Of 3,000 respondents surveyed from across the country, nearly half said they believe social movements such as #MeToo and Time's Up are paving the way for real gender equality. Two-thirds of men and women agree that these movements are empowering females and that they are causing men to re-evaluate how they interact with women. Thirty-one percent of respondents say the movements have changed how they think about sexual assault.
"These findings demonstrate the powerful force that women's and girls' voices are for creating meaningful change in attitudes towards gender here in Canada," says Caroline Riseboro, President and CEO of Plan International Canada. "We must persist so that this momentum can continue and the impact can be felt far beyond our borders. Women and girls are the world's most vulnerable population; globally we must help amplify their voices and, importantly, listen to their stories."
On March 8, Plan International Canada is asking people to mark International Women's Day by using #WeMust on social media to share what #WeMust do collectively and as individuals in Canada and around the world to strengthen the gender movement and propel it forward.
The survey results found that recent social movements, including #MeToo, are changing attitudes and behaviours around gender relations rapidly.
Two-thirds of men (64 per cent) and women (70 per cent) in Canada agree that #MeToo and Time's Up are empowering women and girls to share their experiences;
Sixty-seven per cent of men and 69 per cent of women believe the movements are causing men to re-evaluate how they interact with women;
Nearly half (47 per cent) of survey respondents say the movements have created a positive impact on workplaces and schools, with 46 per cent saying this is paving the way for real gender equality;
One-third of Canadians (32 per cent) say the way they think about male-female power relations has changed because of the movements;
Thirty-one per cent say the movements have changed how they think about sexual assault.
Riseboro points to some of the survey's other findings, which show the size of the gender gap in Canada. Women are twice as likely as men (29 per cent versus 16 per cent) to have felt discouraged from applying for a job or a promotion because of their gender, and four in 10 women (44 per cent) say that they have had to change their behaviour to appear more authoritative in the workplace. She also cites the World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Gender Gap report that ranks Canada behind 15 other countries when it comes to gender equality.
Plan International Canada has applauded the federal government for the gender responsive budget it tabled last week, but Riseboro says it will take more than policies and regulations to truly make a difference.
"Gender equality and inclusion policies are important, but they are focused on the symptoms of the issue. At the root of the problem is the culture we live in, where power, silence and inequality are deeply intertwined. We will not move the needle significantly on gender equality until we examine our culture and our deeply held beliefs," she says.
That fundamental cultural and behavioural change must be a shared global effort. In its domestic and international work, Plan International Canada engages all genders in the work of girls' rights and gender equality.
"We must work together to tackle cultural obstacles and defeat harmful stereotypes, especially those that affect girls," says Riseboro. "So many of the important decisions and experiences that will shape a girl's adulthood can happen before her 18th birthday, whether it's what she studies or being forced into early marriage."
About the Plan International Canada Survey Plan International Canada partnered with Hill+Knowlton Strategies to conduct an online survey among a total of 3,000 adults from February 16-23, 2018. Of those, two-thirds of respondents were women and one-third were men. All respondents resided in Canada.
About Plan International Canada and the Because I am a Girl initiative Founded in 1937, Plan International is one of the world's oldest and largest international development agencies, working in partnership with millions of people around the world to end global poverty. Not for profit, independent and inclusive of all faiths and cultures, Plan International strives for a just world that advances children's rights and equality for girls. Because I am a Girl is Plan International's global movement to transform power relations so that girls everywhere can learn, lead, decide and thrive.