Only one in five millennials expect to see global gender equality in their lifetime

New survey from The MATCH Fund reveals over half of millennials want Canada to play a big or leading role in funding women’s rights efforts globally.

(OTTAWA, September 24, 2018). Today, on the first day of Gender Equality Week, The MATCH International Women’s Fund (The MATCH Fund) released the findings of a nation-wide survey of millennials and their expectations of achieving gender equality, in Canada and around the world.

Of the 1,700 Canadians aged 18 to 37 polled by Abacus Data, 75 per cent said they expect gender equality to be achieved in the Western world in their lifetime – but only 21% thought it could be achieved globally.

Millennial men tended to be less pessimistic as only 20 per cent said that achieving gender equality in their lifetime anywhere was “unlikely” or “not possible” while 31 per cent of millennial women said the same.

The positive expectations of achieving gender equality also waned with age. While 84 per cent of 18 to 23 year olds of both sexes said they were optimistic, that figure dropped to 70 per cent among 29-33 year olds.

“The older you get and the more experience you have in the work world, and then as a parent perhaps, the less optimistic you are about our ability to reach a state of true gender equality,” said Jess Tomlin, The MATCH Fund CEO. “The data suggests that older Canadian millennials – many of whom are now at the stage of being working parents – are now realizing the reality of gender inequality.”

“The silver lining here is that this realization is fueling global movements to finally push for meaningful change – but these efforts towards gender equality can’t let up, and they need to be widespread and strategic. There is no quick fix,” said Tomlin.

At a time when the federal government has prioritized gender equality, the survey also aimed to uncover millennials’ opinions about the Canadian government’s role in promoting gender equality as part of our international assistance, and the potential impact that their policy leanings could have on decision makers.

“Millennials will make up the largest portion of eligible voters at the next federal election for the first time. This means that if they vote, they have the collective power to influence the results in a profound way,” said Abacus Data CEO David Coletto, and one of Canada’s leading experts on generational change.

73 per cent responded that it is at least partially the role of government to invest in gender equality globally, as compared to the private sector and civil society. Only 16 per cent of respondents said that the government should play “a small role” or “no role,” while 34 per cent said that it should at least play “a moderate role.”

Specifically, when asked what levelof role the Canadian government should play when it comes to investing in women’s rights efforts globally, including funding grassroots feminist organizations, 51 per cent of millennials said they wanted Canada to play at least a big, or leading role.

“The fact that most 18 to 37 year olds in Canada expect the federal government to play a significant role in funding women’s rights organizations globally suggests that they understand the link between supporting grassroots feminist organizations and our society’s ability to achieve gender equality,” said Tomlin. “A belief that The MATCH Fund and our feminist global partners wholeheartedly support.”

The MATCH Fund, along with many international partner organizations, including the Nobel Women’s Initiative, have been consistently advocating for larger and more direct Canadian international assistance investments to support women’s rights organizations and movements.

Through the Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) and related programs such as the Women’s Voice and Leadership initiative put forth by the Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development, The MATCH Fund has been encouraged to see progress relating to funding women’s rights organizations and movements.

However, much work and investments are still needed to truly shift the power so that women’s rights organizations can set their own priorities, and not be at the mercy bureaucratic and political red tape to enact their agendas.

“There is no quick fix to these complex issues of gender inequality in the global South and beyond,” said Gisèle Baraka Bashige, human rights defender and journalist at Mama Radio in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“But I believe that this change is possible if grassroots activists, such as myself and my peers, can be meaningfully supported when we push for progress. I see these survey results as an indication that Canada’s younger generations are ready to take on the global fight of gender equality with us – and that gives me hope.”

In its appearance before the Standing Committee on Finance last week, The MATCH Fund advocated for $2.2 billion over 10 years to be spent on supporting women’s rights organizations and movements.

“Clearly, this survey demonstrates millennial support for a strong Canadian investment in women’s rights. In this time of extreme geopolitical uncertainty, it has never been more important for Canada to back the brave feminist activists fighting for equality, peace and security,” said Tomlin.

In addition to releasing these findings, The MATCH Fund is kicking off Gender Equality Week with an evening event in Ottawa, featuring an annual campaign unveiling and an expert panel titled Gender Equality in a Millennial World, with a keynote from the Minister of Status of Women, The Hon. Maryam Monsef.





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