You can't make the unconscious conscious

By: Mary Shortall, NL Federation of Labour

Day one of an amazing - albeit somewhat overwhelming schedule. It’s hard to choose which sessions to choose from the array of choices, but today something became very obvious to me.

No matter how you approach it, any discussion that involves how we ultimately  achieve equality for women must include many factors - there is no one easy fix for governments, leaders, stakeholders, organizations and civil society.

What became very clear to me - from our meeting with Canada’s Minister of Labour this morning and listening to the panellists speaking at the Nordic Country’s Gender Equality Session this afternoon  -  is that first and foremost - there needs to be the political will to make change happen.

You cannot implement one rule, policy, or law - there are many intersections and links - it is broader than enacting employment equity legislation for example.  It must be tied to quality jobs, decent work and pay, and free from violence. We need strong social infrastructure like a universal child care program, strong public services,including home care,and mental health,  strong defined benefit pensions, and attention must be paid to  young women, marginalized women, and those who work in precarious jobs. All these issues we talked about are intrinsically  linked.

Here’s what I learned from the Nordic countries about creating equality, and closing the gap:

Around Gender Bias: you cannot make the unconscious, conscious

We need political will and a positive society.

We need a strong public sector, and good child care.

We need labour markets to employ women.

We need to be bold in taking new steps to pave the way.

We can level the playing field with things like paternal leave, and gender balance on Boards, etc.

When Women in the Labour Force are paid the same as men, it contributes to a sustainable and growing economy.

These depend on buy in from government, business, unions, social partners and civil society.

The world is indeed possible to change!

Reproductive rights are crucial to this - we cannot separate challenges where women and men work.

We need to invest in sectors where women work.

Employers have to be required to show a decrease in the gap every year.

We need political leadership, resources, politica will and we need to stand behond the debate.

We need strong leadership and strong laws!


…. and we need to talk to our kids about this.


Change can happen!

I am Excited for the rest of the week, and Feeling empowered and so honoured to be part of this amazing week!



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