The Struggle for Equality – Women’s Rights and Women in Politics – October 18, 2017

Good morning PPGR enthusiasts and Happy Persons Day!

Persons Day commemorates the anniversary of the 1929 Edwards v. Canada case, in which women were recognized as “qualified persons” under the British North America Act of 1867. Previously, while women had obtained the right to vote in federal elections and in most provinces by 1918, women were actively being kept out of other political institutions such as the Senate by being denied recognition as “qualified persons”. The five Albertan women, known as the Famous Five, fought for a hard-won victory for Canadian women’s equality and in turn opened the door for women to lobby for further changes towards achieving equality. Keep reading to discover some fantastic articles on gender equality!

This week’s Morning Brief was prepared by Cindy and Katerina. Sign up here to receive the Morning Brief directly to your inbox.

Commemorating the Famous Five


  • On September 25th, Katie Telford, Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the University of Toronto to share her insights into politics and talk about her mission to get more women into positions of power. This was the first event in the School of Public Policy and Governance’s Women and Leadership speaker series that will continue throughout the academic year. Telford discussed how to become more inclusive of women and people from diverse backgrounds in the political arena. Being intentional and persistent during recruitment is a key part of the solution. However, the biggest challenge for women in politics is not recruitment, says Telford, but retention– read more at [Ross & Sadiq/PPGR].
  • Meanwhile, in Ottawa, over 100 students from various departments at the University of Toronto participated in Women in House, a program which allows young women to shadow Members of Parliament and learn about their work on Parliament Hill. SPPG’s Kayla Ishkanian and Priscilla Mak were present, shadowing Elizabeth May of the Green Party, and getting a chance to see politics up close. While impressed by the amount of work shouldered by Ms. May over the day, they noted the lack of women, and especially women of colour,working on the Hill. More insights on their hectic days are available at [Ishkanian & Mak/PPGR].
  • Women and Politics, a London advocacy group, is pushing for women to comprise 50% of the ballot in next year’s municipal election. During the previous civic election, women made up only 23% of candidates. “We know that when women run, they win in equal numbers to men. But if you don’t run, you can’t win,” said Shawna Lewkowitz, founder of the advocacy group. Lewkowitz is urging Londoners to not only look for potential women candidates and ask them to run, but to also let these women know that they have the support of the community [Dubinski/CBC News].
  • During NAFTA talks with Mexico, Trudeau has emphasized the importance of gender equality, stating that: “The success of any society depends on the full participation of women across social, economic and political life. Because when women succeed, we all succeed.” Trudeau acknowledged Mexico’s efforts in achieving gender balance among elected officials – around 37% of Mexican senators are women, and next year’s election will require that 50% of candidates be female. Canada will have Mexico’s support in introducing a gender chapter into the trade pact, but what this agreement will look like is still under development [Levitz/The Star].

We hope these articles have added to your insights on gender equality! The next edition of the Brief will be making its way to your inboxes on October 25th, 2017.