Just the Facts
International Women’s Day 2024

Release date: March 8, 2024

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Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day (IWD), which serves as an opportunity to raise awareness of the progress made toward achieving gender equality, as well as highlight the inequalities that persist. This year, the United Nations (UN) Women’s theme for IWD is “Invest in women: Accelerate progress.” According to UN Women, one key area that requires action to ensure women are not left behind is ending poverty.Note  This article therefore uses data from various Statistics Canada sources to examine women’s and girls’ experiences with poverty in Canada through an intersectional lens.

The poverty rate among women and girls has decreased since 2015; however, gaps exist between different groups of women and girls

According to the Market Basket Measure (MBM), Canada’s Official Poverty Line, the poverty rate among women and girls in 2021 (7.7%) was about half of the rate observed in 2015 (14.8%).Note  Note  This pattern was observed among Indigenous women living off reserve (from 27.9% in 2015 to 13.7% in 2021), immigrant women (from 18.2% in 2015 to 8.4% in 2021)Note  and women with disabilities (from 20.4% in 2015 to 11.0% in 2021).Note  Additionally, the poverty rate among people in one-parent families headed by a woman in 2021 (17.2%) was about half of the rate observed in 2015 (36.4%).Note  For unattached women, the poverty rate declined by about 10 percentage points over the 2015-to-2021 period (from 32.6% to 22.2%).Note  Note 

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The Poverty Reduction Act

In 2018, the Government of Canada released Opportunity for All: Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy. The Poverty Reduction Act received royal assent in June 2019 and enshrined commitments made in the strategy into law, including establishing the MBM as Canada’s Official Poverty Line, setting concrete poverty reduction targets and creating the National Advisory Council on Poverty.

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Overall, a comparable proportion of women and girls (7.7%) and men and boys (7.0%) experienced poverty in 2021.Note  This pattern, wherein the proportion of women and girls and men and boys who experienced poverty was comparable, generally held true among different groups, including racialized people, immigrants, Indigenous people living off reserve,Note  people with disabilitiesNote  and unattached people.Note 

Although the poverty rate was generally comparable for women and girls and men and boys, gaps existed between different groups of women and girls.Note  Unattached women (22.2%) were more than four times more likely than women and girls in families (4.8%) to experience poverty in 2021,Note  while Indigenous women living off reserve (13.7%) were almost twice as likely as non-Indigenous women (7.8%) to experience poverty.Note  This pattern was also observed for women with disabilities (11.0%), compared with women without disabilities (5.7%).Note 

Very recent immigrant women (11.6%) were more likely to experience poverty in 2021 than women born in Canada (7.0%),Note  while transgender women (12.0%) were more likely to experience poverty in 2020 than cisgender women (7.9%).Note  In addition, the poverty rate among racialized women and girls (9.8%) in 2021 was higher than the rate observed among their non-racialized counterparts (6.6%). Even among racialized women and girls, notable variations in the poverty rate were observed, with Chinese women and girls (13.1%) almost twice as likely as South Asian women and girls (6.9%) to experience poverty.Note 

People in one-parent families headed by a woman are particularly likely to experience food insecurity

In addition to the poverty rate, Opportunity for All introduced other indicators to track progress toward reducing poverty in Canada. These indicators are organized under three key pillars: Dignity, Opportunity and Inclusion, and Resilience and Security.

The first pillar of Opportunity for All—Dignity—is concerned with ensuring everyone has the basic necessities, including food, to live with dignity.Note  People in one-parent families headed by a woman are particularly likely to experience food insecurity, with more than two-fifths (42.6%) experiencing food insecurity in 2021, compared with almost one-quarter (23.9%) of people in one-parent families headed by a man.Note 

The proportion of young women not in employment, education or training has decreased since 2015

The second pillar of Opportunity for All—Opportunity and Inclusion—focuses on promoting opportunity and movement out of poverty. Promoting opportunity includes helping people excel through access to education and skills development, which can lead to quality jobs.Note 

In 2022, 7% of women aged 15 to 24 years were not in employment, education or training, down from 10% in 2015. This was lower than the proportion observed among men in the same age group (12%).Note  Note 

A gender wage gap persists in Canada

Ensuring people have income security and the social supports they need to navigate difficult times is key to reducing poverty.Note  In line with this goal, the third pillar of Opportunity for All—Resilience and Security—tracks whether wages have increased over time.

Over the past two decades (i.e., from 2002 to 2022), the median hourly wages of women aged 15 years and older increased from $21.17 to $25.00 (in 2022 constant dollars).Note  Despite this progress, a gender wage gap persists. In 2022, the gender wage gap was 16.3%. In other words, when comparing the median hourly wages of women and men aged 15 years and older, women earned 84 cents for every dollar earned by men.Note  Note 

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Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics Hub

Statistics Canada’s Centre for Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics has established the Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics (GDIS) Hub, which allows for easy access to data and analyses disaggregated by sex, gender, sexual orientation and other identity factors (e.g., Indigenous identity, racialized group, disability status). Data tables and analyses cover a wide range of topics, including education, employment and income.

The GDIS Hub includes, and connects to, the Sex, Gender and Sexual Orientation Statistics Hub, which includes data and analyses on sex, gender and the 2SLGBTQ+ population and will, over time, feature more functionality.

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Note to readers

This article uses data from the Canadian Income Survey (CIS), Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Census of Population. Data from the CIS and LFS do not include the territories.

The CIS and LFS release information on the sex of individuals, whereas the census collects and releases information on their gender. Although sex and gender refer to two different concepts, the terminology related to gender is used throughout this article to make it easier for readers.

Beginning in 2021, the census asked questions about both the sex at birth and gender of individuals. While data on sex at birth are needed to measure certain indicators, as of the 2021 Census, gender (and not sex) is the standard variable used in concepts and classifications. For more details on the new gender concept, please consult the Age, Sex at Birth and Gender Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2021.

In this article, data on “racialized” people are measured with the “visible minority” variable. For the purpose of this study, Indigenous respondents are not part of the racialized group, nor the non-racialized group. “Visible minority” refers to whether or not a person belongs to one of the visible minority groups defined by the Employment Equity Act. The Employment Equity Act defines visible minorities as “persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour.” The visible minority population consists mainly of the following groups: South Asian, Chinese, Black, Filipino, Latin American, Arab, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Korean and Japanese.


The Market Basket Measure (MBM) is based on the cost of a specific basket of goods and services representing a modest, basic standard of living. It includes the costs of food, clothing, footwear, transportation, shelter and other expenses for a reference family. These costs are compared with the disposable income of families to determine whether or not they fall below the poverty line. For more information, including information on the 2018-base MBM, refer to the Report on the second comprehensive review of the Market Basket Measure.

The CIS uses the Household Food Security Survey Module as a measure of food insecurity. It contains 18 questions designed to measure food insecurity resulting from limited financial resources. The questions relate to the household’s experience during the 12 months preceding the survey. The survey was conducted from January 16 to July 5, 2022.

For all estimates related to median hourly wages, the annual Canada-level Consumer Price Index value was used to convert current dollars into constant dollars.


Cisgender: People aged 18 years and older whose reported gender corresponds to their reported sex at birth.

Food insecurity: The inadequate or insecure access to food because of financial constraints. Food insecurity in this article refers to people living in households that experienced marginal, moderate or severe food insecurity.

Immigrants: People aged 16 years and older who are, or have been, landed immigrants in Canada. A landed immigrant is a person who has been granted the right to live in Canada permanently by immigration authorities. Canadian citizens by birth and non-permanent residents (persons from another country who live in Canada and have a work or study permit, or are claiming refugee status, as well as family members living here with them) are not landed immigrants.

Indigenous people: People aged 16 years and older who reported having an Indigenous identity, that is, First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuk (Inuit), or those who reported more than one identity. People living on reserves and other Indigenous settlements in the provinces are excluded.

People in one-parent families: People in non-senior (i.e., families in which the major income earner is younger than 65 years) one-parent economic families. The child or children (birth, adopted, step or foster) of the major income earner are younger than 18 years. Other relatives may also be in the family.

People with a disability: People aged 16 years and older who met the Disability Screening Questions (DSQ) criteria. The CIS identifies people with disabilities using the DSQ module, which is based on the social model of disability and was asked of one randomly selected household member aged 16 years and older. The DSQ module first measures the degree to which difficulties are experienced across 10 domains of functioning, then asks how often daily activities are limited by these difficulties. Only people who report a limitation in their day-to-day activities are identified as having a disability.

Transgender: People aged 18 years and older whose reported gender does not correspond to their reported sex at birth. Non-binary people are excluded.

Unattached people: People not in economic families. A person not in an economic family is a person living either alone or with others to whom they are unrelated, such as roommates or a lodger.

Very recent immigrants: People aged 16 years and older who arrived in Canada within 5 years or less.

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