Canadian female politicians deserve better recognition & support

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Based on the rate at which women are being elected to Canadian Parliament, it’ll be another 83 years before the House of Commons achieves gender parity. 
 
This is because, despite marginal increases in representation, women still aren’t given the voices they deserve in Canadian politics—which hurts the country as a whole. 
 
Last week’s federal election saw an increase in female members of parliament (MPs) elected. 98 women were elected across all parties, 10 more than were elected in 2015. 
 
But that only breaks down to a three per cent increase since 2015. Women still take up fewer than one-third of the seats available. 
 
This is because party mechanisms still exclude women. Once women get a foot in the door, they’re often still treated like they’re not real politicians.
 
According to political scientists, women are far more likely than men to be run in unwinnable ridings as ‘sacrificial lambs.’ 
 
This has nothing to do with women’s suitability for politics and everything to do with opportunity. The majority of Canadian federal incumbents are men, and as long as men are encouraged to re-run in key ridings, there’s less room for women.
 
Women are more hesitant to pursue politics, partly because they disproportionately face the negative effects of running for office: discrimination, online abuse, and familial and personal responsibilities.
 
Last week, re-elected Liberal MP Catherine McKenna—who’s disparagingly been called “Climate Barbie” in the past—found a vulgar, misogynistic slur spray-painted across the front of her Ottawa campaign office. 
 
Former attorney general and minister of justice Jody Wilson-Raybould described being undermined and bullied by the prime minister.
 
Even once in a position of power, women are still diminished.
 
This has drastic repercussions. According to a survey, only 28 per cent of women in Canada feel informed about “big issues” like the economy and environment, compared to 46 per cent of men. Women are also less likely to trust their own judgement when deciding where to stand on these issues. 
 
The bulk of this problem lies with a lack of female political representation. According to Equal Voice, Canada is only 54th in the world for elected women. 
 
This is amplified when other intersecting aspects of their identities are marginalized, such as women of colour, Indigenous women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. 
 
When party organizations use women as ‘sacrificial lambs’ in the nomination process to pay lip service to equality, they’re treated as window dressing, not as a substantive offering for voters. 
 
But representative Parliament makes better public policy. 
 
If women aren’t given the space they deserve as qualified politicians, Canadian women as a whole will be under-considered, under-represented, and under-served. 
 
Meredith is The Journal’s Editor in Chief. She’s a fourth-year Politics and English student.
 

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