Families Count 2024: new resource on family structure now available


Families Count 2024 is now available

Sustainable Development Goal 5:

Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment


Goal 5 – Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

Mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, aunts, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and other women across Canada make diverse and significant contributions to family life. These contributions have an impact beyond the family home into workplaces, communities, and society.

Gender equality is a fundamental human right, and equality rights have been enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Women and girls in Canada perform a disproportionate share of unpaid work in the family home; they are underrepresented in the labour market; they experience higher rates of family violence; and they continue to have lower average incomes than men. Women continue to experience a “motherhood penalty” in the workforce after having children, with lower average earnings than those without children, barriers to returning to work, and discrimination in career advancement.

Ending these inequalities is essential to ensuring family wellbeing and the full participation of women in society.

These inequalities can be seen in the statistics related to multiple realms of family life. Click on the topics below for more information.*

Health and wellbeing
  • In 2021, women and girls in Canada aged 12 and older were less likely than men and boys to report very good or excellent mental health (55% vs. 63%) and more likely to report fair or poor mental health (13% vs. 10%) (source).
  • In 2021, women (51%) were less likely than men in the same age group (57%) to report participating in the recommended 150 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week (source).
  • In 2021, girls in Canada aged 12 to 17 were more than twice as likely as boys to report most days being “quite a bit or extremely” stressful (21% vs. 9%) (source).
  • In 2021, women and girls represented 69% of police-reported victims of family violence in Canada, with more than double the rate experienced by men and boys (457 victims vs. 212 per 100,000 population) (source).
Income, employment, and finances
  • In 2021, 77% of mothers in Canada were employed, compared with 92% of fathers (source).
  • In 2021, employed women in Canada aged 25 to 54 earned 11% less per hour than employed men in the same age group (source). 
  • In 2020, the poverty rate for one-parent families in Canada headed by a woman with a child aged 0 to 5 was 31%, down from 63% in 2015 (source).
Care and caregiving
  • In 2022, women were more likely than men to have looked after or provided unpaid care to children (32% vs. 26%) and to have provided unpaid care to adults with long-term conditions or disabilities (23% vs. 19%) (source).
  • In 2018, women represented nearly two-thirds (64%) of caregivers in Canada who provided 20+ hours of care per week (source).
  • In 2018, women accounted for approximately 59% of employees in Canada who left the paid labour force because of caregiving (source).
Household work
  • Among women and men in Canada who were in a couple** that was surveyed during June 2020…
  • Women (16%) were nearly twice as likely as men (9%) to report that they have been dissatisfied with the distribution of household tasks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 56% reported that the laundry was mostly done by the woman in the couple. Only 16% said the man mostly undertook this task. Half (48%) said the woman mostly prepared the meals, while only 16% said this task was mostly done by the man (source).
  • During 2015 to 2018, women accounted for 60% of the total hours of unpaid household work in Canada (source).

*All figures have been rounded to the nearest percentage point.

**As a measure of gender equality between women and men, this figure excludes same-gender couples.