Behind the Scenes
“Political institutions reflect male lived experience. The female experience is absent.”
“You don’t have to be Superwoman!”
“We need to offer no strings attached support and build women up, not tear them down.”
“How can we translate political language to make it more accessible?”
“Women don’t have a harder time running, the problem is that not enough women run”.
On Monday, January 20, 2014, a group of 48 women came together to discuss women and politics. It’s election year in London, Ontario, and that evening we examined womens’ candidacy and women in politics.
We explored the practical issues such as financial support and leadership training. We discussed the health and wellness of women who choose to run or who are in office. And we explored the question of WHY women don’t run.
The underlying tone of the meeting was excitement and empowerment. There was recognition that we all have a role to play to increase the representation of voices at a political level. For some, that will mean running. For others it will be to provide support. For those with experience in politics it will be providing training, guidance and advice. For all the women in the room, it will be a renewed commitment to taking ownership and building a deliberate movement for equal voice.
The thoughtful discussion that night also recognized the need to ensure that women who are marginalized or have barriers (language, child care, transportation etc) are given a voice. Amplifying the engagement of all diverse voices was echoed at each table. Without a myriad of perspectives, difficult policy decisions are made in a vacuum. Bringing in divergent lived experiences also serves to increase the brain power of people in power.
There are those who believe that Women and Politics’ mandate is irrelevant and unnecessary. My response to them is the same as my response to climate change deniers. What’s the worst that could happen if we assumed inequality (or climate change!) exists? What’s the worst that could happen if we assume women need support and if we encouraged better representation in politics?
If the worst that can happen is that a roomful of women are inspired to make change and support each other, then I’ll keep at it.