I was surprised to learn when the list of the initial 10 candidates for the race for the BOG dropped to 8 that I would be the only women left in the running. Surprised, and definitely disappointed. Some people have said that this gives me an added advantage, that people who are sympathetic to the lack of female representation will default their votes to me, and others have said that my pointing it out was a clear sign of such manipulative intentions on my part. The thing I would like to point out is that this isn’t an exclusive problem to this race. It was a problem at last year’s BOA elections too, where I was the only woman to run for six seats in the Faculty of Social Science, where the registration ratio of men to women was pretty much 3:2; the problem is in the race for president of the SFUO, where 4 men are contending, just as three had the year previous to take the highest seat in our student political arena. But far more importantly, the aim of this post, is that the Canadian House of Commons too faces such grave problems, as do legislatures all across our country where women are sorely underrepresented.
Last year, as the Vice-President of External Affairs of the Equal Voice Youth Chapter here in Ottawa, I lead our club into creating an internship program- Experiences– which placed approximately 60 young women in the offices of members of parliament across all parties, including Peggy Nash, Ruby Dhallah, Rona Ambrose, and many other prominent female MPs. This year, as President of the youth chapter, I presented the idea to Equal Voice, where the Executive Director and former National Chair instantly fell in love with our idea. We then built on it- aiming to take the concept nationally, and last night, the day came when our dream would be realised. Last night, the Minister of Status of Women Canada announced that Experiences Equal Voice will received a grant of $1.2 million dollars to operate the program of mentorships across Canada, urban and rural, for 5, 000 women ages 18-25 and girls 12-18, for the next 3 years! I am thrilled and proud that our chapters small University project has become this great national cause, and I am even more enthaused that so many young women and girls will be influenced by this.
Below you’ll find pictures of my break from campaigning last night, celebrating the announcement of Experiences! The official launch will be had March 3rd at Rideau Hall with the Governor General.