DANS L'ACTUALITÉ
Equal Voice invites you to Be her. Support her. Celebrate her.

 

Niqab debate underscores dearth of female candidates (Ottawa Citizen)

Sep 28, 2015

 

This article was originally published in The Ottawa Citizen. It was written by Nancy Peckford and Grace Lore on September 28, 2015.

 

How visceral, tolerant or informed is your reaction to the niqab? And what impact should your attitude have on how you vote or who wins the election?

 

The scarf worn by an extremely small minority of Muslim women that covers all of the face except for the eyes has turned out to be a cultural flash point for many Canadians, but in Quebec especially. Accordingly, it made a brief but heated appearance in last Thursday’s French language debate among federal party leaders.

 

In the wake of much impassioned conversation about a proposed charter of values in Quebec, the National Assembly is considering a ban of not just the niqab, but all facial coverings. Federal party leaders who are now on the hustings are also weighing in, aligning their positions with the constituencies that they believe matter most. At the heart of the federal discussion is whether women can wear the niqab during official citizen ceremonies. The proposed Quebec law would to go much further — banning any head/facial covering among those who deliver and receive government services.

 

And while 82 per cent of Canadians outside of Quebec support a ban on the niqab for citizenship ceremonies, the debate has struck a particularly strong chord inside the province with some of the strongest equality laws in the country. Concerned about pay equity? Quebec mandates that businesses demonstrate that women and men are equally compensated. Want better parental leave provisions? Quebec also provides a special provision for fathers to spend time with their new arrivals. Consider, too, that Quebec was the first provincial government to achieve gender parity in cabinet, under former Premier Jean Charest.

 

Yet the voices of the women most affected by a ban on the niqab are few and far between — anywhere in Canada. The furor and anxiety it has created appear to be partly fueled by the fact that very few Muslim woman in Canada have a formal political voice.

 

This is one of the reasons Equal Voice is so committed to electing more women, particularly from diverse backgrounds.  While there is no doubt that the debate about the niqab is nowhere near settled within the Muslim community, the conversation would be significantly enriched by the voices of more Muslim women who are part of a very heterogeneous and evolving faith.

 

Some say that women don’t stand a chance of getting elected if they come from a minority community. Not so fast. In an analysis that Equal Voice undertook this past week of the 33 most diverse ridings in Canada (where over 50 per cent of the population is visible minority), we found that a whopping 40 per cent of visible minority candidates were women.  Meanwhile, among candidates of the non-visible minority pool, women are just 21 per cent.  

 

Across the country, women are also far better represented among First Nations candidates (55 per cent) and Black and Caribbean candidates (52 per cent), though the total number of candidates from these backgrounds is still quite small. Nonetheless, the percentage of women being fielded is impressive when compared to the current overall percentage of women candidates for the major five parties – which is not expected to exceed 33 per cent. The Conservatives are fielding the fewest women (20 per cent) followed by Bloc Quebecois (29 per cent), the Liberals (31 per cent), Green Party (39 per cent), and the NDP (43 per cent) — the latter is a historic high for any federal party in Canada.

 

Would the presence of more elected women change the outcome of a debate on the niqab, or any other values debate?  Hard to say. But it would certainly alter the conversation from one where we talk about Muslim women wearing the niqab to a much more valuable one informed by the perspectives of Muslim women themselves.

 

And isn’t that the ultimate goal of democracy?

 

Nancy Peckford is National Spokesperson for Equal Voice. Grace Lore is a Political Scientist at the University of British Columbia and EV’s Federal Election Researcher
 
 

Participez... aux chapitres d'À voix égales partout au pays. Trouvez-en un près de chez vous, ou peut-être même que vous pouvez lancer un chapitre

École de campagne en ligne Osez vous lancer:
pour les femmes de tous les âges, de tous les antécédents de la société intéressées à se présenter en politique.

MORE INFO ON GETTING ELECTED TO PUBLIC OFFICE

Commanditaire Or

Commanditaire Or

Commanditaire Or

Commanditaire Argent

Commanditaire Argent

 

Commanditaire Bronze

Commanditaire Bronze

Commanditaire Bronze

Commanditaire Bronze

Commanditaire Bronze

Greenshield

Supporters

 

Supporters

Supporters

Supporters

Supporters

Supporters

SUPPORTERS

Supporters

Supporters

Merci également au gouvernement du Canada (Condition féminine et Patrimoine canadien) pour son soutien financier.