Where are the women?

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Equal Voice says it’s time to focus on getting women on the ballot

By Raylene Lang-Dion

and Nancy Peckford

Just last week, over a cup of coffee, a cabinet minister — whose provincial government is led by a woman — shed some interesting light on why he thinks electing more women is important. Yes, it is part of a healthy democracy. And yes, the fact that women are the majority compels us to ensure they have an equal voice at the political decision-making. But he also said that women bring a different style to politics — a style that is more inclusive, more consensual and more apt to get things done.

Unfortunately, we won’t be able to validate his theory in Newfoundland. At least not yet. Tuesday’s municipal election elected an all-male council in its largest city, and several other communities have no or extremely few women on their newly elected council. At the same time, we know that a number of women made important breakthroughs in rural communities in the province. Branch, notably, elected an all-women council.

At this juncture in Canadian politics, when more women leaders and premiers, are getting elected than ever before — municipally, provincially and federally — St. John’s election results, in particular, are head-scratchingly difficult to understand.

In 2010, Newfoundland was one of the first provinces to elect a female premier. National polling for Equal Voice shows that nearly every Canadian wants more women politicians. International articles on women’s leadership in the public and private sector are at an all-time high.

So, while we are disappointed with the outcome of Tuesday’s election results, tomorrow is another day that starts with providing more women with the tangible skills, confidence and focus to run. Then the conversations and the outreach required to make it happen must start — well in advance of any election, so that, four years from now, we see far more women’s names on the ballots.

There have been many, many studies about the challenges women face when seeking elected office, so we know what we are up against. In particular, many women find themselves already over-taxed with work and family obligations, in addition to volunteer activities in their communities.

However, we also know that women can easily translate their skills to a campaign context and that when they do run, they meet with success. Women benefit from being actively asked to run — repeatedly — by their colleagues and their friends. They also want  specific information and focused training to take the mystery out of how to get elected and what that process involves. We have also seen how women embrace the chance to speak and learn from other women.

As Equal Voice starts putting the pieces in place to do just this, we are asking you, as a man or woman, to join us in our new campaign, Be Her. Support Her. And Celebrate Her. The campaign is designed to renew the dialogue in communities across the country about how we can get more women elected, so that our six female premiers do not become an anomaly but instead the norm in terms of what we expect from politics — at every level.

We invite hundreds of you in the province to engage with us in this work. Because we know that if you can’t “be her” as a candidate, then you can certainly “support her” so that she can get elected. And together, we can celebrate those victories.

Join Equal Voice Newfoundland and Labrador by contacting EV at nl@equalvoice.ca.

Raylene Lang-Dion, Equal Voice’s national chair, and Nancy Peckford, executive director, of Equal Voice: Electing More Women in Canada, both hail from Newfoundland and Labrador.

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

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  • N
    September 30, 2013 - 10:02

    Beautifully put Cashin. Imagine, a little intelligence on this forum!!

  • Cashin Delaney
    September 30, 2013 - 09:14

    The women who are Premiers of our provinces are figureheads who were pulled along and installed under the myth of female inclusiveness and consentuality, yet we get Nationalistic bigotry under Dunderdale and Marois, using their platforms to induced hatred of the other, among their most ignorant citizens, for votes. This is the same divide and conquer tactic used by our male premiers. What has changed then, why celebrate gender, for it's own sake, when these incompetents are just bad leaders who are poor examples to youth, regardless of sex or professions of feminism. The old axiom, the hand that rocks the cradle..., is more true today in our nuclear family-based society than it ever was. This is where Real Leadership is always demanded; infants do not respect figureheads! So, with the proliferation of stay at home Dads, and empty nest Premierettes, let's celebrate what we have been doing since the dawn of humanity; sharing gender roles as necessary, and figuring out how to go forward with the most capable people guiding us(, but not necessarily out front with a silly hat on their head, beating their chest). There may be no women on city council, but Bill Rowe praised one unsuccessful candidate this morning for her moxy! I though that was a little bit of a condescending word choice, maybe it was high praise and he simply has been watching too many Humphrey Bogart movies and could not come up with a better one? Maybe, the best leaders in our province are the ones now carefully raising daughters, right now, with integrity, who are being equipped to lead us in a coming future, instead of the females of a certain cultured class lobbying for an enforced state of equality that brings no real benifical change, except that the coffee-drinking cabinet minister can now hide behind a woman, who, to the politically correct, represents all women (but really represents her own chosen class values under a populist disguise) and now stand in to take the fall for the governments abuse of power. Women rule the world, and very sagely, invented religion and politics many years ago as a pacifier to keep men out of more important realworld affairs during time off from war.

    • Bogey
      September 30, 2013 - 12:19

      "The battle of the sexes is over. We won the second women started doing pole dancing as exercise" - Ryan Gosling ("Crazy, Stupid, Love"). We have elected councilors, mayors, MHAs, MPs and Premiers that happened to be women. They weren't elected because they were women, they were elected because the voters thought they were the best candidates to get the job done. And that's the way it should be, voting for what's between their ears and not what's between their legs.