by Rick Rake.
Women are woefully underrepresented as candidates in Canada’s national political system, ranking 42nd in the world behind countries like Afghanistan and Iraq.
Without a substantial amount of women’s influences in the system, do civility, ethics, listening and the ability to see the big picture take a back seat?
The Liberal Party of Canada in Pitt Meadows-Maple-Ridge Mission took an interesting and lively look at these questions during its popular Women in Politics forum July 5 in Mission.Insights offered by panelists Sen. Mobina Jaffer, former Abbotsford Liberal candidate Madeleine Hardin from the University of the Fraser Valley, Mission community activist and former school trustee Pam Alexis helped the audience understand what sometimes holds women back from the political arena.
Host Heather Stewart, moderator Mary Pynenberg, and panelists Senator Mobina Jaffer, Madeleine Hardin and Pam Alexis
Panel moderator Mary Pynenburg, an urban planner and president of the federal National Women’s Liberal Commission, said money, membership and muscle are key in political campaigns, but Hardin was quick to say open-heartedness has its place, too.
“Women offer another way of looking at the world. Don’t get me wrong, I love debate and a good fight, but civility is lacking in the political system today,” said Hardin, adding that a sign in her office reads: “Activism is my rent for living on the planet.”
Jaffer, who talked about how politics can take its toll on marriages, said women should never give up when they want to change the status quo. “Right now is an exciting time to build on our federal Liberal principles and values,” she said.
Alexis grew up in a family that empowered her to believe women can do anything, and it wasn’t until she entered university and the business world she started experiencing some challenges as a woman. Undaunted, she continued to pursue her passions.
The Dalai Lama has said we can bring more compassion to the world by bringing women into politics. Hardin agreed with this idea, and said that we must educate women, they are the first teachers of the next generation. By educating women about civics and politics, we will interest the next generation in getting more involved.
The Women in Politics forum in Mission was one way to fuel the discussion on what is keeping many Canadian women away from the political stage.
For more information, please read the Abbotsford Times article on the event.
View more photos from the Women in Politics forum photo album here.