Balance of Power Campaign to Achieve Gender Equality in Politics

Canada ranks 60e out of 187 countries based on the percentage of women in parliament according to an Inter-Parliamentary Union report on gender parity.

Some Canadians may be surprised to learn that the top five spots belong to Rwanda (61%). Cuba (53.4%); Nicaragua (51.7%); Mexico and United Arab Emirates (50%).

With women representing 30.5% of parliamentarians, Canada ranks slightly below Zimbabwe (30.6%) and just ahead of Vietnam (30.3%). The United States was 70 years olde (28.5 percent).

Reaching Gender Parity in Politics: We Still Have Room to Grow, a study by Abacus Data (August 2022), found that two out of three Canadians are either worried, disappointed, surprised or angry to learn of Canada’s low ranking.

Of the 2,000 respondents surveyed, 84% believe that the balance of power between men and women better represents voters and is good for the economy.

Fewer than one in five believe it is up to women to run or voters to elect more women. 63% believe that political parties, or the government, should be responsible for ensuring equal representation of women and men in politics.

The national Balance of Power campaign encourages Canadians to help the country achieve gender parity in politics by 2030.

Commissioned by Informed Opinions (IO), the findings prompted the non-profit organization to launch a first-of-its-kind campaign encouraging political parties to increase women’s representation at all levels of government.

Canada is falling behind other countries on gender parity

In a recent interview with rabble.caShari Graydon, CEO of IO, noted that in just two decades, Canada’s ranking has dropped 32 places from 27e at 59e. Surprisingly, while the Abacus study was underway, Canada dropped an additional ranking to 60e square.

“Canada is falling behind on parity in politics and the fact that women hold less than a third of elected seats prevents us from developing policies and tabling budgets that reflect the needs of all citizens,” Graydon said. .

For Graydon, this political inequality is extremely detrimental to the whole country. This is because women experience many aspects of life differently than men, and these realities inform thoughts and ideas.

As things stand, 70% of politicians will never experience menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth or pay discrimination. They are unlikely to be sexually objectified, harassed or assaulted.

According to Graydon, these differences explain why single men cannot meet the needs of Canadian women, and she believes their background proves her point.

That’s why Graydon “hopes to foment a revolution of Canadians who expect better. It refers to the commitment of Canadians who, until now, were unaware of how well Canada is doing when it comes to political fairness.

“We know that diversity means more reliable health care, financial policies and budgets. We also know that the status of women is a good indication of the country as a whole,” Graydon said.

Over the past 20 years, Canada has gone from 20% to 30% female representation. At this rate, it will take until 2062 to achieve gender parity.

Gender balance, an essential element of democracy

Graydon says it really isn’t hard to achieve parity when it’s seen as a matter of fundamental fairness and an essential part of democracy.

She cites complacency as the culprit.

“We thought we were a leader. We had international attention when Justine Trudeau had a balanced cabinet. But he gave us that when women make up less than a third of elected officials,” she said.

Multiple obstacles prevent women from running and being elected. Among these is in particular the network of old boys who operate in political parties. Women continue to be less present in the pipelines and pathways to power.

Additionally, when women are recruited, they typically receive less funding than their male counterparts and are sacrificed in unwinnable constituencies. None of these token gestures do anything to reduce the gender gap.

“Political parties have the power to achieve gender parity by making the necessary changes to their practices and policies,” observed Graydon. They just need political will.

Whether running for office or occupying it, women face greater criticism and have to deal with toxic abuse that their male counterparts do not encounter. Catherine McKenna and Chrystia Freeland have both come under fierce attack for their work within their ministerial portfolios and general party policy respectively.

Graydon thinks having 50% women in Parliament means less testosterone and it brings a different quality to the conversation as well as more collaboration. More women also help control bad actors in the house.

Gender quotas increase the quality of candidates

It is important to remember that countries around the world facing these same issues are always able to elect more women. A fact that can often be attributed to the establishment of voluntary gender quotas.

Iceland (47.6%) and New Zealand (49.2%) have voluntary gender quotas that have been adopted by political parties. Both countries are also led by female prime ministers.

The belief that such quotas compromise the quality of female candidates is unfounded. In fact, by ensuring a more level playing field for women, ordinary men find it increasingly difficult to get elected because, as research shows, the women who run are generally more qualified for these positions than their counterparts. male counterparts.

Currently, more than 80 countries have set minimum targets for women’s representation and tasked political parties with meeting them.

Canada’s federal parties already nominate 83% of the candidates they field – it’s just that most of them are men.

In Quebec, however, this is not the case. Women held over 44% of the seats in the last provincial parliament (2018) and are expected to win up to 47% in the next one (2022).

That’s partly because advocates have been lobbying the government for years to introduce tough targets. The prospect of targets has prompted parties to recruit and support more women.

“We need to learn from countries that have adapted their political systems to ensure women’s perspectives and experiences are meaningfully reflected in government decision-making,” Graydon said.

While country schools are often touted as a solution, Graydon believes they provide useful information while reinforcing the importance of representation. What these schools fail to do is address the systemic barriers that keep women out of office.

More importantly, campaign schools imply that women need some sort of training before they can launch their political careers. This contrasts sharply with their male counterparts who are often described as “natural” politicians.

“I learned so much that it made me angry and even more vehement because other countries are doing better. We need to mobilize Canadians to recognize how fundamentally indefensible this is,” Graydon said.

To that end, the Balance of Power campaign is asking Canadians to say no to the status quo by emailing their MP, MPP, National MP, MPP – listings available on the site – telling them that Canadians expect not only to better gender representation, but that they vote for him.

For more information and to join the Balance of Power campaign, visit https://www.balanceofpower.ca/.

Informed Opinions has worked to improve the portrayal and portrayal of women in the media and to amplify women’s voices through research, advocacy and thought leadership for over four decades. Founded in 1981 as MediaWatch, the organization has evolved over time and remains Canada’s only national initiative addressing the engagement of women in public discourse, which the organization says has never been more critical. .

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