Charlotte, light of my life, is 7. Her fearless physicality, fierce devotion to her brothers, and clarity about her artist’s soul… these are just three of the things that make my heart ache when I think about the many ways the world she is inheriting will fail to deliver what she deserves.
But one of those likely or inevitable failures is fixable. And you can help (especially if you act now — see below)!
At the turn of the millennium, Canada ranked 27th in the world for women’s representation in parliament. Now we’re 59th.
Let that sink in. Canada, a beacon of democracy, has been outpaced on this metric by 58 other nations.
Representation is a prerequisite for democracy — but we don’t offer it to women and girls in this country.
Despite the good work of Equal Voice, which has been advocating for parity in politics for two decades, we’ve only gained 10 points in the past 20 years. At this rate, we’ll be lucky to reach parity by 2062.
Charlotte will be pushing 50 by then, and I probably won’t be alive to see it.
While we were feeling smug about the appointment of a gender-balanced federal cabinet, other countries recognized the cost of not ensuring women have an equal say across government. Dozens of them decided that “natural evolution” (aka “incremental change”) wasn’t cutting it. And so they adopted laws.
Mexico is among them. This deeply Catholic country wrestled its culture of machismo to the ground and achieved parity in politics in 2018.
If they can do it, so can we.
But change doesn’t just happen; it’s made to happen. Especially when the change involved requires some people with power to dismantle the structural barriers that keep other people from accessing it.
Political parties have the power to fix this. The status quo exists because they haven’t prioritized women’s equality as dozens of other countries have. And we haven’t insisted. So we can start to do that, now.
Canadians who want our democracy to live up to its promise can say “no” to the status quo. They can sign an online petition calling on our elected MPs to ensure it is read aloud in the House of Commons. The deadline to make this happen is September 17th.
Parity in politics? It’s only fair.
Together we can create the circumstances that all the Charlottes in our lives grow up in a country that demonstrates its respect for women’s rights by giving them access to an equal voice in government.