Note: This article was originally going to focus on the gender gap in pay equity. In light of the events of the past few weeks, we at GoodTech felt it was important to put that inequality in its larger political context, and to not avoid discussion of the outrageous hypocrisy we’re witnessing in our midst, from the powerful men who see #MeToo as merely threatening their privilege, instead of as a movement of justice-seeking to prevent further future wrongs.
In 2011, Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)” anthem hit the airwaves, catapulting the signer to the forefront of pop culture, where over the next five years she would come to represent a new generation of confident, empowered women ready to boldly assert their strength and power. Until 2016, it would not have seemed too outlandish to believe we were in the early days of an age where real systemic gender equality would soon be at hand.
Circumstances of the last two years, globally but most especially in the United States, have forced into stark relief the distance that still stands between us and that goal. Though women the world over have made great strides towards equality in many spheres, we also cannot fail to also see the cresting tide of resistance to this, as to all great societal change. There are all too many reminders today of how far we are from real parity in many of the ways that matter most.
Be it Canada or Denmark, India or Argentina, women are still not being recognized for the full breadth of work they do in the form of equal compensation. Though few would deny this fact, it still remains that little is being done to shift the balance. In Canada, women in the workplace, in general, make approximately 69 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts (Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2018). While the number improves when looking solely at full-time workers, even those women make only 75% of what their male peers earn. For women of colour or women with disabilities, the figures are dramatically worse.
When it comes to political representation, the situation is even more dire. While some countries have made great progress, they’re the exceptions to the rule. In 2017, only two countries had reached or exceeded 50% female representation in national political chambers, while in nearly 50 nations women’s representation at a national level was less than 30% (UN Women, 2017). Canada, despite prominent gestures by the ruling party, currently ranks 60th among nations for gender parity at the national level. None of the major national parties have managed to even run an equal number of male and female candidates for office, let alone elect an equal number (CBC, 2015).
What other consequences does this stark inequity in political chambers bring? We’ve seen it all too clearly these last few weeks in America. Even with #MeToo shattering any illusions that sexual assault doesn’t happen all around us, in our midst, we’ve all been subjected to the spectacle of watching a cadre of starkly unrepresentative legislators barely feign the motions of respecting the words of a woman who braved the barrage of hatred and harassment to clearly and forcefully tell her story.
Barely a moment had passed before these politicians — who couldn’t conceivably be any less representative of the average American — were ready to pretend as if what we’d witnessed had never even happened. As has become too predictably the case in Trump’s America, what followed was even worse than that.
Like many people, we at GoodTech are not willing to stay silent in the midst of this hypocrisy, and we want to do whatever we can to combat the inequalities at the root of this injustice. For all its failings, we in Canada live in a representative democracy that allows us to have our say, albeit indirectly, in the way our society is governed. The last few weeks can be taken as a potent reminder that it matters very much *who* we choose to represent us.
We believe that having representatives who reflect their constituency is an important step towards equality. In (dubious) homage to Canada’s persistent pay gap, we’re happy to offer any woman who wants to run for political office a 25% discount on any services we can render in support of her campaign. We pride ourselves on our low rates already, so for us, we’ll be working at cost, but gladly so for this particular cause.
We realize that doesn’t nearly ‘level the playing field.’ There are many non-financial factors that dissuade women from seeking political office. Likewise, not all women experience the same hurdles to office.* Nonetheless, the substantial cost entailed in almost any successful political campaign is a major factor, one that research suggests may deter women in particular. We’re committed to lowering that hurdle, and we’ll do our best to go the extra mile for any candidate in need of our services.
We’ll all benefit from a more just and equal world. We’re excited to work with any and all who want to achieve that goal. So let’s get started — there’s lots of work to do.
* We recognize that identities are intersectional, that not all women experience identical conditions of discrimination, and that there are many other people who likewise face discrimination and hurdles to equal political representation. We’re committed to offering all other disadvantaged classes of people the same offer we’re extending to women in general. The world is better off for all the equity and justice we can bring into it, and we’re happy to work with anyone who shares our commitment to that goal.