By: Ann Hui
68 women were elected into the Canadian House of Commons during last night’s federal election. This marks the highest number of women ever to hold seats on Parliament Hill.
The funny thing is that hardly any major newspapers in Canada chose to cover the election from this angle. Even funnier is how little this ‘achievement’ will mean for women in politics.
Women’s groups like Equal Voice – an advocacy group devoted to increasing the number of female politicians – pushed all of the major parties to run more female candidates this year. A record-breaking 387 women ran in this campaign, up from 320 female candidates during the 2006 election.
Despite these efforts, the 68 women elected last night were only four seats more than in the last parliament.
The UN claims that 30 per cent female representation is necessary in order for women’s voices to be heard. Even with our ‘record-breaking’ election, women hold just 22 per cent of the seats. For all of our celebrating, we’re still more or less on par with Ethiopia and Pakistan.
So, what went wrong?
According to today’s Toronto Star:
“In many cases, women were running in unwinnable ridings. In others, more than one woman was running in the same riding, while in some, no women candidates were running at all.”
Photo of Olivia Chow taken by the Toronto Star
For those of us living in Trinity-Spadina, all three major party candidates were female. How is one to choose?
Equal Voice is now calling on Prime Minister Harper to appoint more women to his cabinet. Women did not hold any senior cabinet positions in his last cabinet, so here’s hoping that there’ll be some improvement this time around. If you can’t win with numbers, you might as well give them good seats, right?