Speaker Series: Women in Politics with Kathleen Wynne
By: Roya Shidfar
Introduction to Women in Politics On the world stage, Canada is seen as a progressive and modern democracy. When compared to many nations around the world, these facts hold true. However, we should not use this signal of progress as a reason to turn a blind eye to the unique experience of women in elected office here at home. Although women have led provinces and parties in this country, they continue to suffer from growing harassment and abuse in the polarized political climate. This poor treatment extends beyond party lines and seriously affects the experience candidates and elected representatives have. Numbers mean nothing when the experiences of women are limited and suppressed by harassment and ongoing intimidation.
As a recent example here at home, The Globe and Mail recently revealed that Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, has received consistent threats and abuse online. The comments are consistently misogynistic, violent and personal. This has extended to become verbal harassment and bullying while out with her family, which has resulted in her requiring security personnel when she is out in public spaces.
Women have been discouraged to be actively involved in politics and on the front lines of our institutions for far too long. This oppressive culture perpetuates that cycle and further intimidates women to pursue careers as elected officials or as public leaders. The unfortunate reality is that this issue not only affects Canadian women, but it affects women all around the world, beyond our domestic borders.
With these prominent issues coming to light, it is our duty as Canadians not to tolerate this behaviour any longer. Minister McKenna is one of many women while battling adversity, also faces biases and stereotypes in their respective work environments. Her situation is not unique, and advocacy must continue against the violent abuse and harassment of women in the political sphere. As young Canadians, we need to continue to learn more about these issues and not turn a blind eye to them. More women should be encouraged and empowered to run for office. Our society should do better, and it can do better.
Masseman, A., Carr, D., & Perrier, C. (2019, September 10). 'Disturbing' sexist abuse towards Catherine McKenna common for women climate experts, says scientist. CBD Radio One. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-september-10-2019-1.5276545/disturbing-sexist-abuse-towards-catherine-mckenna-common-for-women-climate-experts-says-scientist-1.5277307
Rabson, M. (2019, September 8). Environment Minister McKenna gets security detail as online threats against her and her children move to real world. CBC News. Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-environment-minister-mckenna-gets-security-detail-as-online-threats/