International Women’s Day is a reminder to celebrate the great achievements that society has made in recognizing the equality of women. “Canadian girls have many more role models and they have many more opportunities in every aspect of life. They also have the right to be involved in politics. This is worthy of celebration,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands. “But there is still a long road ahead. International Women’s Day is also a day to recognize that we have to continue the work for gender equality.”
Within the past three years, we have seen a huge change in the Canadian political landscape. Following historic gains in the 2011 election, furthered by the recent by-elections, have resulted in an all-time high percentage of 25% of women elected to Parliament. More Canadians than ever are now governed by premiers who are women as four provinces have women at their helm.
As the only woman leader of a parliamentary party, Elizabeth May insists on Canada continuing to work toward increasing the representation of women in Parliament, but warns about their stereotyping:
“Women represent over half of the population of Canada, yet only 25 percent of Parliamentarians are women,” she said. “Adding to that, when women are elected there is still stereotyping of their roles and abilities, media imbalances in their treatment, and a rampant sexist perception of their conduct and behaviour.”
Sexism made the news recently in Ottawa. University of Ottawa Chancellor and former Governor General Michaëlle Jean and University of Ottawa President Allan Rock held a press conference on Thursday to announce the establishment of a task force to look at how to combat sexist behaviour and violence against women. The announcement came in the wake of a scandal involving a less than appropriate chat by students and a sex assault probe of the school’s men’s hockey team.