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Equal Voice Launches Youth Engagement Strategy to Help Achieve Gender Parity in House of Commons

Jun 22, 2016

 

OTTAWA, June 22, 2016 – Today, Equal Voice Canada launched a year-long youth engagement strategy to accelerate progress on the election of women to public office, including the House of Commons, where progress toward the goal of gender parity has stagnated in recent decades.

 

Equal Voice will call on 338 young female leaders, through its Daughters of the Vote initiative, to create an innovative Action Plan to help achieve substantially better representation on the ballot.  The Action Plan will be delivered to leaders of all federal and provincial/territorial parties, in 2017.    

 

Results of digital consultations and visits to high schools to ask teens for their ideas will help inform the strategy, as will findings of consultations held on university campuses by Equal Voice’s Youth Chapters. 

 

“With youth voter turnout up sharply in the 2015 federal election, Equal Voice believes the time is right to ask young people for their help in tackling the persistent problem of gender inequity in politics,” said Equal Voice Executive Director Nancy Peckford.  “How do we compel parties to make it a priority to attract a higher number of women as candidates on a continual basis, including – importantly – emerging young women leaders?” she asked.

 

Based on current federal numbers, 26 per-cent women MPs, there has been slow incremental progress in terms of women’s overall representation in the House, but it varies widely by party.

 

The New Democratic Party ran 43 per cent women in last fall’s federal election, a historic high.  In addition, 42 per cent of the NDP’s Members of Parliament are women.  Alternately, the federal Conservative Party has a caucus of 17 per cent women, in part due to only fielding 19 per cent women on the federal ballot.  Notably, however, they moved quickly to nominate an interim female leader.

 

The Liberal Party has the greatest number of women of any party caucus on the Hill who have been deployed in a range of senior positions, though overall, Liberal women MPs comprise just 27 per cent of the governing caucus. 

 

To engage the voices of young women, Equal Voice is marking 100 years of women’s formal political engagement in Canada, as well as celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday, with a unique initiative known as Daughters of the Vote

 

Daughters of the Vote will bring young women, aged 18 to 23, to Ottawa from all 338 federal ridings, so they can literally ‘take their seat’ in Parliament on International Women’s Day, March 8th, 2017, and have their voices heard. 

 

While in Ottawa, the young women will be tasked with addressing the still incomplete journey of women’s full political participation by creating a measurable plan. It will identify strategies to achieve progress towards political parity, be it through party pressure and incentives, the better use of technology on the Hill, or by introducing more women-focused policies. 

 

June 30th is the deadline for applications to participate in Daughters of the Vote, including an all expenses paid trip to the nation’s capital this March.  Equal Voice is reviewing applications, which are available online at http://www.daughtersofthevote.ca .

 

To promote the initiative during the final week for applications, Equal Voice also released today a video, Dear 20-Year-Old Me, featuring 11 female Members of Parliament, addressing their younger selves. 

 

The inspiring video, with words of wisdom from MPs Elizabeth May, Lisa Raitt, Catherine McKenna, Celina Caesar Chavannes, Rachael Harder, Monique Pauzé, Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet, Ruby Sahota, Georgina Jolibois, Niki Ashton and Anita Vandenbeld can be viewed at www.equalvoice.ca.

 

“The highly visible achievement of a 50/50 gender-balanced federal cabinet has created a false perception that Canada has made significant progress on closing the gender gap between men and women in national politics,” said Peckford.

 

“However, the reality is starkly different.  In fact, between 2011 and 2015, the percentage of women elected to the House of Commons was virtually stagnant, moving from 25 per cent in 2011 to just 26 per cent in 2015.  With Daughters of the Vote, we hope to sow the seeds of significant change,” she said.

 

Peckford said that at the current rate, political scientists estimate it will take another 90 years to achieve gender parity in Parliament.

 

Founded in 2001, Equal Voice brings women and men together from across the political spectrum in its nine chapters across the country.

Link to the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyLOrcVozm8

For more information about Equal Voice, visit:  www.equalvoice.ca

Contacts:            

Susan King: susanking@sympatico.ca, 613.724.1518 

Catherine Fortin-LeFaivre: Catherine@equalvoice.ca, 613.979.8683

 

 

 

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Thanks also to the Government of Canada (Status of Women & Canadian Heritage) for their financial support.