The world has a lot to teach Canada about equality between men and women.

That's what Sheila Malcolmson, NDP MP for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, took away after attending the first week of the UN Commission of Status of Women session.

Malcolmson says Canada ranks 30th in the world when it comes to gender equality, which led her to tell All Points West host Robyn Burns, "we're not looking so good in the grand scheme of things."

"Canada ranks pretty low," she said. "Zambia is higher than us and Slovenia [ranks higher too]."

Malcolmson noted some countries have "subtle" policies in place that have still done much to improve gender equality.

For example, in Iceland — ranked number one for equality — when a domestic violence crime is committed, it is the perpetrator, not the victim, who is taken out of the home.

"The dynamic we've got in Canada, where we spend a lot of time finding shelter, safe shelter for women and children, in fact it's the other way around," she said. "They're the ones who get to stay in the house. They don't have to flee their comfortable place. Less impact on kids and families in those sad stories."

Political equality

Another area she says Canada needs to play catch-up in is the amount of women in political office.

She says other countries have better policies in place to get women into office. For example, she says Italy had 20 per cent female representation in its parliament.

One election and some new policies later, it had risen to 31 per cent.

"In 97 ridings in the last election [in Canada], people didn't even have the option to vote for a woman," she said. "97 out of 338. That's embarrassing."

Malcolmson says switching to a proportional representation electoral system — the electoral system officially favoured by the NDP — is the best way to improve the number of women in Parliament.

With files from All Points West


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