Gender and provincial leadership, cautious optimism.

Sandra Pupatello and Kathleen Wynne

Ontario Liberal party leadership candidates Sandra Pupatello (left) and Kathleen Wynne attend a forum in Toronto on Dec. 6, 2012. (Frank Gunn / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

I am very glad to see that many provincial parties are electing female leaders.

It is a proud thing for this young feminist to see our country welcome and accept women as party leaders, and as provincial leaders. Further, it is satisfying that these women are leading different parties, with differing values. That those who chose to do so, can (and will) point to this moment in time as an explicit example that politically driven  women are politically different just as they are personally different; that women are not politically driven by a single issue.

However, let us not forget that this hardly marks the end of sexism in Canada or elsewhere. Women are still valued less, economically, than men in almost every industry. Women are more likely the primary caregiver for children and the elderly but are not compensated for this work. “Women’s issues” are still deemed as such, and not person’s issues. I am indeed very proud to see strong women in power, and I very much hope these women inspire others to lead us towards a more equitable future.

Saying it even better than I:

“Symbolically it’s important for a time — what could be a very short time — that we have gender parity among the premiers,” said Jane Arscott, co-author of the upcoming book, “Stalled: The Representation of Women in Canadian Governments.”

“It would be more significant if the position could be consolidated with an electoral win.”

Women are still under-represented in the country’s legislatures, ranging from 10.5 per cent in the Northwest Territories to 30 per cent in Ontario — with Quebec having the highest representation at nearly 33 per cent.

The wave of female premiers is “marvellous,” but Canada saw this trend in the early 1990s before it dropped off, said Arscott.

Regardless of the outcome, women activists say the surge of female premiers in recent years is an “extremely auspicious moment” — the result of decades of work by other trailblazers.

“That doesn’t mean it’s the end of the story — absolutely not,” said Nancy Peckford, executive director of Equal Voice, an organization promoting the election of more women.

(Via CTV on the Ontario Liberal Leadership Convention)

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