Every year, on March 8th we recognize and celebrate the incredible contributions that women have made to society. This year, on International Women’s Day, I’d like to thank you for everything that you have done to make the political scene more inclusive by supporting Equal Voice. Your support has allowed us to be a champion for women and gender diverse people in politics. It’s supporters like you that have inspired me to pick up the torch and continue working to advance women's involvement at all levels of government.
As the new Executive Director of Equal Voice, I know I have big shoes to fill and much work to do. As you know, we are still far from gender parity in the House of Commons - a goal set by Equal Voice over 20 years ago. Envisioned around a kitchen table, Equal Voice was a call to action dreamt up by women across the political spectrum who wanted to see change. Thanks to supporters such as yourself, we have been able to make significant advancements to our work over the years, including the launch of the Equal Voice Foundation, a registered charity dedicated to providing women and gender diverse people with the resources and training they need to run for office. And although a lot has changed, we’ve stuck to our multi-partisan roots, and I promise you, we will continue to do so.
We’ve grown as an organisation, but we still need support to help us reach 50% women at all levels of government.
I know gender parity in Canadian politics is possible. If we continue to work together to support women and gender diverse people by providing them with the resources that they need, we will finally have a government that reflects the diversity of Canada.
Equal Voice has been doing just that. Over the past year, Equal Voice partnered with the Equal Voice Foundation to host 10 campaign schools across Canada. The sessions covered everything from how to seek the nomination, to how to run an e-day, and everything in between.These sessions are important because if women and gender diverse people feel confident and comfortable enough to put their name forward, surely we’ll see more women in Parliament.
In fact, Equal Voice recently launched a survey to determine the future of women in politics and explore why more women and gender diverse people aren’t putting their name forward. I think you’ll find the key findings quite interesting:
Source: Women in Politics Study, Abacus Data - Conducted for Equal Voice
If there’s one thing that the survey shows, it’s that Canadians want to see better gender representation at all levels of government, and that organisations like Equal Voice and the Equal Voice Foundation are fundamental in making that happen. That’s why I have big plans to keep us moving forward. Over the coming months, Equal Voice and the Equal Voice Foundation will be focusing on three key areas to make lasting change:
- Political Balance: I want the world to see what true inclusion and belonging throughout the halls of decision-making can look like. I want all of our levels of government to have balance. Congratulations to the women in Quebec for getting even closer in 2022. We will provide more support to our regional chapters so that they can help move us towards gender balance.
- Table talk: I want to inspire more kitchen table conversations about women and their place in politics. Because the leadership and the problem-solving we need for so many urgent questions: the economy, healthcare, education, and genuine reconciliation requires the wisdom of diverse communities. Our research shows the barriers that women and gender-diverse people face. Let’s make sure that we connect those impacted by politics to training and leadership programs that make the difference.
- Safety: I want a political culture where women are truly equal partners. We know that we’ve seen the rise of harassment, online violence and toxicity throughout our political culture. Our work this year will continue to explore how we can address the harassment that too many political figures face.
Although we still have a long way to go to achieve gender parity, we know that every woman that puts her name forward helps to get us closer to our goal. We’ve come so far, and your involvement with Equal Voice has helped lead the way. But we still have more to do. That’s why I’m asking for your help.
This International Women’s Day, I’m inviting you to join countless others in making a donation to the Equal Voice Foundation. Your support will help us advance our work and provide women and gender diverse people with the tools they need to put their name on the ballot.
When I think about the vision for a truly engaged society, I think about a democracy where we all feel like we belong. For me, that’s about all of us being able to engage safely in politics. It’s about seeing that balance of genders at our decision-making tables: across all governments - municipal, provincial and federal.
It’s a vision for a truly Equal Voice.
As we celebrate people like yourself, let’s remember the work that still needs to be done. We have a long way to go, but I’m confident that with your help we will finally achieve gender parity in our political system.
Happy International Women’s Day.