WITH GREAT CHALLENGES COME GREAT OPPORTUNITIES
It’s no secret that women are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that crisis exacerbates gender inequality on so many levels. At Equal Voice, our mission to elect and support women at all levels of political office in Canada has become more important than ever, especially as we see countries led by women navigating COVID, in many cases, better than countries led by men.
From Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand, to President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan, to Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany, women have been credited for their collaborative and decisive leadership styles that have proven effective in weathering this crisis.
At Equal Voice we believe Canada would be better governed with more women in positions of power. We are inspired by Canadian women and girls everyday, and we know there are future Arderns and Ing-wens within our own communities – but we must encourage them to run for office, and ultimately elect them. However, research shows that women must be asked several times more than men to run, and women are less likely to see politics as a career option. We want to change this by exposing young women to opportunities in politics.
Equal Voice’s Daughter’s of the Vote (DOV) program familiarizes young women and gender-diverse youth with Canada’s political institutions and those serving in them – so that they are equipped and inspired to participate in the formal political sphere and take action in their local communities in the years and decades to come.
As part of past programs, on March 8th, 2017 and April 3rd, 2019, more women sat in the House of Commons than have ever been elected in the history of Canada. Seeing the chamber full of so many dynamic, confident, and inspiring women was more than symbolic – it sent a clear, resounding message.
We need more gender diversity and representation in the House of Commons. Period.
While the plan was to bring another generation of future leaders into the chamber once more in 2021, COVID-19 has presented enormous challenges. How can we safely gather such a large number of delegates, elected officials, staff, and volunteers without compromising Canada’s efforts to flatten the curve and keep our country safe?
With great challenges also come great opportunities – and so, we are excited to announce that the Daughters of the Vote 2021 program will, for the first time ever, be taking place entirely online.
While many may read this and wonder how this can be done, rest assured that it can and it will. Not only are these women and gender-diverse youth the future of politics – so is virtual participation in our democratic institutions. As the world continues to change and adapt to a new normal, so too must politics.
As an organization, we have been calling on all political parties to modernize our Parliament and legislatures, to ensure elected officials have access to our democratic institutions during extraordinary circumstances. Allowing for remote participation, electronic voting, and other measures for those who need it is a concrete way to make the House of Commons more accessible and appealing to women and men.
If COVID has proven anything, it’s that technology has come a long way. While we know the delegate experience will be different, we also know that we can deliver an excellent program that brings together young women and gender-diverse youth to engage in our formal political processes.
This new format for DOV will also remove some of the barriers to participation associated with travel, work, and caregiving obligations that many delegates face, even outside of the ongoing pandemic. In fact, we hope that this iteration of DOV can be, in part, a model for a modernized political process.
Delegates from previous cohorts have been successfully elected to political office, have run as candidates, have managed campaigns, and many now have jobs working alongside politicians at all levels of government. We look forward to welcoming the next cohort of delegates and see them find their place in politics.
We invite young women and gender diverse youth to apply to join us at the first-ever virtual DOV. Applications are open from now until October 1st, 2020 for our March 5-8th program.
Join us, and let’s make history together.