Dear American readers: Your neighbors to the north are producing lots of original television and film content besides Degrassi and Atom Egoyan movies. Also, we — much like you — are struggling for that content to reach gender equity, both onscreen and behind the scenes. Accordingly, “fourteen leaders of women’s media organizations and unions, representing over 40,000 professional members of Canada’s film and television industry, met at a landmark summit” in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on October 14.
The agenda? To effect change. Here’s the results from the summit: “Delegates unanimously supported the release of seven recommendations designed to address the current gender imbalance behind the camera and on screen. The recommendations call for changes in government policy to promote gender equity in employment and in the allocation of public funds for media production. They also recommend the establishment of an annual reporting system to increase accountability in Canada’s media industries.”
So, how bad is the situation up in Canada? The latest report from Women In View, an industry research organization, revealed that in 2013, “Telefilm Canada invested less than 6% of its feature-film funding in productions directed by women.” Summit Co-Chair and Executive Director of Women In View Rina Fraticelli explains, “The Government of Canada, as well as many provincial governments, provides billions of dollars to media industries in the form of investments and tax incentives. Since women make up over 50% of the population, employment in Canadian media production needs to truly reflect the gender balance and diversity of contemporary Canada.”
And of course, readers of this site know why these statistics matter, whether they are coming out of Canada or the United States: “Screen-based media constitute a significant part of the Canadian economy and play a crucial role in reflecting and shaping Canadian society. Both Canadian and international studies have shown that women are still significantly under-represented in the film and television industry, especially in positions of creative and financial authority. This inequity has negative implications not only for the industries involved and the employment pool for those industries, but for society as a whole.”
1) Government policy should explicitly promote the principle that the
equitable employment of women and racialized minorities in audiovisual products
benefits both genders and all cultural groups, and is vital to achieving
policy and regulations, at all levels, should explicitly seek to promote the equitable employment of women at all levels,
behind the camera and onscreen, in the creation of Canadian media works.
3) Public spending
should demonstrably benefit Canadian women as well as Canadian men.
investment in media industries should be tied to a requirement to demonstrate gender
federal and provincial funding agencies routinely offer a range of incentives
in the form of tax-credits, streamed funding and other benefits to advance
specific goals or production strategies, similar incentives to accelerate
gender and racial parity behind the camera and on screen should be implemented.
6) Recording, and annual public reporting on,
gender and racial representation should become a part of application and
delivery requirements for public funding.
7) Government media funding agencies and
production institutions should report annually to the Canadian public on gender
and racial representation in government spending, including tax incentives.