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Equal Voice Calls on Electoral Reform Committee to Implement Gender Based Analysis as it Examines Electoral Systems and Democratic Engagement

Sep 13, 2016

 

Equal Voice Calls on Electoral Reform Committee to Implement Gender Based Analysis as it Examines Electoral Systems and Democratic Engagement

 

Special Committee must increase its efforts to consult with more women if findings and recommendations are to be credible, group says

 

OTTAWA, September 13, 2016 – Equal Voice today called on the review and decision-making process for electoral reform to recognize and consider the effect on women’s representation in all parts of the federal political system, including democratic engagement. This recommendation is among the key findings in Equal Voice’s submission to the Special Committee on Electoral Reform.

 

Equal Voice’s submission, authored by Dr. Grace Lore, EV’s Senior Researcher, who conducted a comprehensive survey of gender and electoral systems in Europe and North America while at the University of British Columbia, also recommends:

 

• Changes to the federal nomination process - not just the voting system - be evaluated and implemented;

• On-going review of retention issues and political culture to increase the representation of women in Canada; and

• Consideration of the different effects on the number of women elected and the amount women can do to address issues  that disproportionately affect women.

 

The submission also contains an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the three categories of electoral reform systems being considered by the Special Committee:  Majority/Plurality Systems such the current first-past-the-post system, Mixed Systems and Proportional Systems.

 

“As we grapple with possible changes to our federal electoral system, there is an enormous opportunity to better understand the limitations and opportunities of different electoral systems. This process should identify a made-in-Canada solution that considers the effects of changes to the political process writ large on women's participation in politics,” said Nancy Peckford, Executive Director of Equal Voice.

 

Electoral Reform Consultations Must Hear from More Women

 

The all-party Special Committee of Parliament charged with evaluating Canada’s electoral system and options for change on the basis of values like inclusivity has, thus far, heard from nearly seven times as many men as women.

 

Of the 62 witnesses who appeared before the Special Committee this summer just 13 were women. In almost half of all meetings, fully 100 percent of the witnesses were men.  At one point, the committee convened seven meetings in a row without hearing from a single female witness.

 

“Recognizing Canada’s first- past- the- post system has been woefully imperfect in terms of the electoral outcomes it has shaped for women who remain chronically and severely under-represented, the committee must be much more thoughtful about who precisely they hear from,” stressed Peckford.

 

Women currently comprise 26 percent of federal Members of Parliament. Only three of Canada’s 13 premiers are women and Canada ranks 64th internationally for women’s representation in national Parliaments.

 

On Wednesday, September 14th, Equal Voice will be co-convening, with YWCA Canada, a special consultation regarding women and electoral reform featuring the Hon. Maryam Monsef, Minister of Democratic Institutions. 

 

As a national, multi-partisan organization, Equal Voice has chosen to not endorse a particular electoral system.  Rather, its submission to the Electoral Reform Committee is designed to promote an enhanced understanding among Committee members, Parliamentarians and Canadians what is at stake for women in the electoral reform process.  The submission is posted at: www.equalvoice.ca

 

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Contacts:

Nancy Peckford: npeckford@equalvoice.ca 613.854-9793;

Susan King: susan@equalvoice.ca 613 724 1518; and

Catherine Fortin-LeFaivre: Catherine@equalvoice.ca 613.979.8683

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