Chi Nguyen – Executive Director

A personal and professional reflection: a year ago today, I stepped into my dream role Equal Voice. Our work at Equal Voice is to elect, support and retain women and gender diverse people in Canadian politics. As a lifelong champion of women’s leadership and democracy, I could not have imagined a better place to show up to every day.

Here are some lessons that have emerged for me over this past year – that I’ll continue to carry forward.

Trust the Team

In the charitable/non-profit sector, many of us are here because our hearts and minds align to the values and vision that we are promoting. I love that the staff and board are all champions for our work and see how our day-to-day opportunities support the broader work throughout the country to support women on their political paths. When I arrived last year, I was blown away at the impact being created – whether it was through our campaign schools, our local volunteer chapters or the research that had been done. This team has been leaning into the multi-faceted challenges that women and gender diverse people face and doing such important foundational work. I am so grateful to learn from them every day.

Create the Community(ies)

Part of any campaign to create change is about finding the allies and champions – our cheerleaders out in front who can speak about why this work is so critical. For me, to see in full colour the power of doing this through building bridges (and finding common cause) is so inspiring. At Equal Voice, one of our most important superpowers is that we strongly champion the political. We are so appreciative that each of the major Canadian political parties speaks up for our mission. For us, multi-partisanship is an innovation and disruption, and a way that we can reimagine the political system. We love seeing the impact of political parties collaborating in ways to advance our shared goals. We are so appreciative to see each of the major political parties speak up for our visions. And, we safeguard this principle of making safety for everyone to learn from each other so that communities of real learning can be created. We know that many people come to our work holding a range of views and ideas, and to achieve our shared goal.

Big Vision, Big Heart

For me, seeing elected houses at the national, provincial/territorial, municipal levels – at school boards, band councils and other places where decisions happen that impact our everyday – look like the communities they represent by reaching gender parity is the big bet. This vision is what will affirm to me that we are doing democracy well, that we have leadership ready to tap into our collective talents (women’s place has always been at the heart of communities) and this needs to extend into the political space as well. But, we know that politics is often framed as a tough and hard battle. What we deserve is political leadership that centres communities and this is why I personally believe so strongly that politics is and should be led with a big heart.

In my first year at Equal Voice, it has been the best privilege speaking to grassroot party members to the political leadership and executives, premiers and elected officials about what calls them to serve in our political systems. It has been an absolute inspiration to hear from elected women and gender diverse people everywhere. But, it’s been daunting as well to see that too many face real challenges in the work they do everyday. The deepening polarization, the threats and presence of violence (online and in-person), the constant critique is a heavy load for officials and politicos to carry. Yet, we rely actively on our political class to govern and to steward and to guide our country’s direction daily. Going into my next year at Equal Voice, I’m determined that we all find ways to contribute in small and big steps to show our political leaders that their leadership matters. That women’s political voice is essential.

What a gift and learning this year has been.

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