Missed opportunity with electoral boundaries commission
A couple of months back, House of Assembly Speaker Wade Verge announced the makeup of the Electoral Boundaries Commission and how he was concerned with urban and rural balance but not gender balance.
Premier Paul Davis, according to The Telegram, said something to the effect that the focus was covering rural and urban perspectives, with gender equity taking a back seat.
Yes readers, women — who make up 52 per cent of the population of this wonderful province — took a back seat. Now, if I were to really analyze the premier’s comments, I just might hear a sexist comment, maybe even similar to the old adage that women belong barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.
Government ads encourage fathers and men to “teach their sons to respect women.” These ads are developed by our government, paid for by our tax dollars and yet this same government sees no value in having gender equality on one of the most important committees established in the last 10 years!
How is it that the government could promote such positive ads for women and then take 100 steps back by subtly stating that not one woman in this province was smart enough or worthy enough or good enough to be a member of that committee? The committee should have equally included men and women.
I recently attended a luncheon hosted by the Liberal Party and the leader of the opposition, Dwight Ball, was there. Liberal MHA Cathy Bennett chaired the session and she asked each of the four panel members a question, then opened it up to the floor.
I reminded everyone how all the parties put forth the name of a man for the Electoral Boundaries Committee and here was the Liberal Party encouraging women to be involved in politics and leadership when their own party did not see fit to nominate a female.
I asked if it was possible that not one women sitting in the room was good enough to be nominated. Cathy Bennett said, “I am not sure that we didn’t.” She was not sure!
I asked a Liberal male MHA sitting at my table why they never recommended a woman for the committee and his comment to me was, “the PC Party had two names to put forward and they never suggested a women either.”
Instead of each party encouraging women to run for political office once every four years, why not form a non-partisan committee where the time and talent and money could be pooled together instead of the divide and conquer method!
My question is, where are our female voices? Why is it that 52 per cent of the population are not joining their voices together so they are a force to be reckoned with and taken seriously?
Where are the voices of the fathers and the husbands and the brothers? Were ye all not of woman borne?
I think we should have marched on Confederation Building, I think we should have screamed from the rooftops, and I think we owe our daughters more.
Is there actually a glass ceiling or is it really concrete? There are countries in the world where women are forced to walk behind their husbands, not allowed to speak in public and not allowed to vote. Women in Canada only won the right to vote in 1921, and all women only won the right to vote in 1960.
Before 1921 we were not even considered ‘persons.’ The victory after a long struggle by the ‘ famous five’ and their supporters to get us that right gets demeaned when we do not speak up about injustice.
All the parties will be coming to us begging for our vote this fall in the federal election and less than a year from now in the provincial election. I know we must elect more women to speak for us in leadership positions or we will never have an equal voice.
I know there are many women who work every day to make the world a better place for everyone and to advance the rights of women. I also know there are not enough of us doing it.
It is time we put our voices together!