By: Rachel Lau           

Things are looking bleak for young women in Canada when it comes to sexual harassment and assault, a study by the Canadian Women’s Foundation has found.

The survey revealed that despite an increasing awareness about harassment and domestic violence, 79 per cent of Canadians believe that Generation Z (those born from the late 1990s to the early 2000s) are “just as, or more likely” to experience sexual assault.

Of the 1,004 randomly selected Canadians aged 18 and over, 89 per cent of women and 69 per cent of men believe most Generation Z women will experience some type of sexual assault.

“They’re not feeling optimistic partially because of the way it’s still talked about,” said Anuradha Dugal, Director of violence prevention programs at the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

    “There’s still a lot of blame and stigmatization going on. People don’t think it’s getting any better.”

In addition, 93 per cent of millennial women (aged 18-34) believe the next generation are just as, if not more, likely to be victims of harassment or assault.

“This should be a wake-up call for all Canadians,” said Paulette Senior, President and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

    “Young women are telling us loud and clear they’re worried about the future of gender equality in Canada.”

Canadians also believed women will continue to experience sexual harassment in the following ways:

    Online harassment (87 per cent)

    Physical violence from a partner (81 per cent)

    In public (70 per cent)

    In the workplace (64 per cent)

Seventy-nine per cent of Canadians surveyed believe Generation Z women will also be “just as likely” or even “more likely” to feel unsafe because of their gender.

In addition, more than one-third of all Canadians believe the country is at risk of losing progress already made when it comes to gender equality because of the current social and political climate.

49 per cent of young women — agree with this sentiment, compared to 28 per cent of men.

“We’ve made significant progress to date and we can’t afford to lose these gains, or have our progress stall,” Senior said.

“Gender equality benefits everyone, and we all have a responsibility to make it a priority. This work isn’t just for ourselves. It’s for the next generation and for all Canadians.”

Almost half of Canadians (49 per cent) fear the country will not be able to make new progress on gender equality.

Fifty-nine per cent of women — 69 per cent of millennial women — feel Canada is at risk of failing to advance on gender equality.

“We went through a time where a lot of it was access to vote, access to education, access to X, Y, Z: tick, equality solved,” Dugal told Global News.

“I do think as we know more and more, as we understand more about the systemic issues and how things are connected. Equality can’t just be limited; we have to have equality for all women.”

The study was conducted as part of the foundation’s annual Campaign to End Violence, which takes place this month to raise awareness and funds for over 450 emergency shelters and violence prevention programs across Canada.

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