It’s rare that policy analysts—wielding only data and research—become as influential or as beloved as Kate McInturff.
But Kate had the rare ability to crunch numbers, and then translate her findings into crystal-clear analysis that made you understand the big picture—and want to take action to improve women’s lives in Canada and around the globe.
Feminist scholar, activist, and trailblazer in gender equality, Kate was one-of-a-kind. Not only did she bring her sharp analysis to the fight for gender equality—she also brought compassion, solidarity and a wry sense of humour.
Born in 1968 in Seattle, Kate moved to Canada to do her PhD at the University of British Columbia. She then joined the faculty of the American University of Cairo, and after three years she returned to Canada as an assistant professor at McMaster University. In 2004 Kate took a position at the University of Ottawa, and in 2007 became a Canadian citizen. Leaving behind academia, Kate shifted gears into leadership positions at Peacebuild, the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action, and Amnesty International.
In 2013 Kate joined the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) as a Senior Researcher. She directed CCPA's initiative on gender equality, Making Women Count, and soon received national acclaim in Canada for researching and writing the annual “The Best and Worst Places to be a Woman in Canada: The Gender Gap in Canada’s 25 Biggest Cities” report. In 2015, she was instrumental in the Up for Debate campaign, a coalition that came together to ignite a pan-Canadian conversation on gender justice and equality in the 2015 election. But Kate’s interest in gender equality and social justice went beyond Canada. Kate also sat on the United Nations Advisory Group on Inequalities and the Coordinating Committee of Social Watch.
Kate wasn’t just a powerhouse feminist, she was also a fierce believer in supporting the next generation of feminists—women like young feminist Julie Lalonde— to expose and dismantle the policies and practices that entrench gender discrimination.
In 2017, Kate made a passionate and personal appeal to the Standing Committee on Finance in Canada’s House of Commons to fund women’s organizations. Kate told the Committee that violence against women in Canada costs the economy some $12 billion annually, or $415 per capita, an amount on par with the economic costs associated with smoking and use of illegal drugs. Yet by her calculations, the federal government was spending only $5 per capita to address violence against women.
“Prove me wrong,” she called on committee members, “Show Canadians that the future really is feminist”.
Kate passed away peacefully on July 27, 2018, following a three-year battle with colon cancer.
In her last blog, written a few days before she died and then published in the Ottawa Citizen, Kate wrote, “I have struggled to love my neighbour as I love myself. I have struggled harder to work in a way that creates a platform for my neighbour, for those in distress to speak their truth to power.” Ultimately, she turned to her calculator to express this love.
“Do we really not have enough money to end violence against women, close the pay gap, ensure their economic security? Well, what do you know? Turns out there is money to be had for these things. Turns out that with a calculator, a passing knowledge of tax policy, and a big love of data, a woman can show you the money. Laying bare the real question, which is: Why aren’t you spending on reducing the barriers to women’s well-being? To their safety? To their security?”
Kate leaves behind a legacy “of love and spreadsheets”, quite literally, and is remembered by those who knew her as “Funny, Fearless, Unapologetically Feminist.”
Read Kate's powerful final blog post here.
Read this wonderful profile of Kate about her incredible work.
Watch Kate speak to the the Standing Committee on Finance in Canada’s House of Commons.
Donate to CCPA’s new Kate McInturff fellowship in Gender Justice.