Provincial election especially important for female voters
TUESDAY, March 8 is International Women’s Day and I’ll be spending part of it at the McNally Robinson bookstore at a U2011 Café Politique, one of a series of talks sponsored by the Manitoba Institute for Policy Research and The Duff Roblin Professorship in Government.
The cafés are designed to encourage Manitobans to participate in the fall provincial election, which will likely prove to be, as my colleague Jared Wesley argued at the first café held a few weeks ago, a critical one. As one of three speakers for the event, I’ve been asked to dispel some common myths about women and politics. And there are many myths to rebuff, such as misconceptions that women aren’t want to make the case for is this: Contrary to popular belief, your participation in the provincial election actually matters, and it matters especially for women. Here’s why. Health care, housing, education, child care, labour, justice and social assistance, to name a few, are policy jurisdictions of the province.
If developed and implemented properly by taking into account women’s realities and their experiences, these public policies can have a dramatic impact on not only the health and well-being of women, but their ability to take up employment to be economically independent, to be treated with equity and respect in the workplace, or to be safe at home and in the community. As expected, if we are honest, governments don’t always live up to these ideals, even if there is goodwill on their part to do so. And any sitting government has to balance competing interests. So it’s up to us as voters and advocates for women’s full social and economic citizenship to do our part: We have to ask the tough questions when candidates come knocking at our door asking us to support them. We have to show up at town halls or at organized leaders’ debates to be sure that women’s issues (which are all issues, really) are part of the discussion.
And there’s another reason why provincial politics and elections matter: Making Manitoba voices heard remains important during a time of federal minority governments.
There may well be opportunities to make some gains, particularly when the premier of Manitoba works with his counterparts as they negotiate with the federal government over, say, increases in transfer payments. And if that proves difficult, it’s still important for women’s groups and advocates of women’s equality to offset the actions of the Harper Conservatives.
The provincial election matters not just in Manitoba, but in national politics. To make it really meaningful, participate by being an active citizen and cap it off by casting your vote on election day. In the meantime, join the discussion at McNally Robinson on March 8 at 7 p.m. Let them know you’re paying attention.