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City sees success addressing issues affecting women

Recent report ranks Oshawa 10th best place to be a woman in Canada

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Oshawa is ranked the 10th best place to be a woman in Canada, according to a recent report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The report ranks 25 of Canada’s largest metropolitan areas and compares how men and woman relate along the lines of economic security, leadership, personal security and education.

The study is the second of its kind and looks to address the gaps that exist between men and women across Canada.

The previous report, which was released in April 2014, had Oshawa in 19th place.

Oshawa’s rank this year saw it come in fourth spot in leadership, followed by a seventh in health. The city was 13th in economic security and fell to the bottom with a 25th rank for personal security.

According to the report, the best place to be a woman in this country is Victoria, BC, followed by Gatineau and Quebec City.

Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo ranked at the bottom of the list, behind Edmonton and Calgary.

Mayor John Henry says he’s pleased with the city’s ranking, which improved from the previous version of the report.

“It’s an amazing story,” he said. “We’re progressing. We’ve got a lot of things going on in Oshawa, including great opportunities for woman.”

The good news

In many areas, Oshawa is ahead of other cities on a national scale.

Looking at the gap in employment between men and women, Oshawa is below the national average with 66 per cent of men and 60 per cent of woman being employed.

Women are also more likely than men to have completed high school and women’s rates of college completion are higher than the national average, with 27 per cent of women having completed college or CEGEP.

Oshawa also topped the list of cities closing the gap between men and women in senior management positions, with women making up 44 per cent of the management ranks.

“I think it’s great that we’ve come further than we were,” says Councillor Amy England. “As long as we’re looking at this with open eyes and we’re looking to continue to improve and I think, overall, Oshawa is a great city and our ranking being improved from the last study is promising for the work that we’re doing.”

More work to be done

The largest area of concern for Oshawa detailed in the report is personal security for woman, which had Oshawa ranked at the bottom.

In Oshawa, the rate of sexual assault reported to the police is higher than the national average.

Nearly 380 incidents of sexual assault were reported to Durham police in 2012, the last year for which data is available. However, the report states this number can be unreliable as the vast majority of assaults go unreported.

England says work needs to be done to find a solution, as personal security should come before all other aspects listed in the report.

“I think for any city to be truly friendly to woman…go after some of those things and make sure woman are in a safe environment,” she said.

This could also be a good opportunity to breathe new life into Oshawa’s temporarily on hold Safe City Partnership, England says.

The partnership was disbanded temporarily for the city to look into a more clear focus.

“I think this is an excellent opportunity to use the Safe City partnership and give it a clear focus,” she says.

Despite the high employment numbers and number of woman in senior management positions, the report found a large wage gap between men and woman. As well, women took less than one in five elected positions in the city and its outlying regions.