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Poll shows Canada ranks #60 in the world for gender parity in politics; majority of Canadians aren’t pleased.

Campaign aims to shine spotlight on problem of Canada's gender parity in politics
Shari Graydon, Informed Opinions
Shari Graydon, CEO of Informed Opinions, leads a campaign encouraging Canadians to advocate for gender balance in politics. Photo supplied.

A few weeks ago, images of Queen Elizabeth II greeting new British Prime Minister Liz Truss showed the power of female leadership--in the Queen's case, the longest-reigning female leader in history. 

That makes results of a recent poll all the timelier and, according to a new campaign by Informed Opinions, all the more disappointing.

A new Abacus Data study shows two in three Canadians (66 per cent) are either concerned, disappointed, surprised or angry to learn Canada ranks 59th (now 60th) out of 187 countries in the percentage of women that make up national parliament. Some 63 per cent think parties and government should be responsible for ensuring equal representation of men and women in politics.

“Canada is losing ground when it comes to parity in politics and the fact that women hold less than a third of elected seats prevents us from developing policies and tabling budgets that reflect the needs of all citizens,” said Shari Graydon, CEO of Informed Opinions. Graydon says our ranking dropped from 27th place two decades ago, leaving Canada now lagging behind Mexico, Iceland and New Zealand.

"Canada has made gains in the last two decades, but now we've become complacent. We imagine ourselves doing better than we are, and we've accepted incremental change when countries like Mexico--ranked fourth in the world--are adopting legislation to ensure women's representation."

Commissioned in August by nonprofit Informed Opinions, the study queried 2,000 Canadians aged 18 and over about their views on gender parity among elected officials in Canada.

Graydon says it's frustrating to see how often political parties default to the 'white man in the navy suit' when it's well documented that having women representatives in political office benefits families, children and the economy as a whole.

"Canadians understand the benefits when women's insights and solutions help shape public priorities," she added. "It's not rocket science: women experience every aspect of life differently. We wouldn't have maternity leave, child care or reproductive health policies if women hadn't advocated for them."

Some Canadian provinces and parties are doing better than others, Graydon adds, pointing to her website's map that breaks down the data. Quebec is doing better than most others, running 49 per cent women candidates in their coming elections. Alberta and others lag behind, though Rachel Notley reiterates that in her NDP government, at least half the cabinet ministers would be women.

"We've got 30 years of world research showing that when women participate in politics, society sees increases in innovation and effective health care; even happier workplaces overall.

"The issue is important because data shows that 60 per cent of those quoted most often in the media are politicians. Role models make a huge difference in life, so we must see ourselves represented," she added. "I'm 64 and impatient. i want to see change for my seven-year-old granddaughter."

“We need to learn from countries that have adapted their political systems to ensure that women’s perspectives and experiences are meaningfully reflected in government decision-making,” Graydon said. “Political parties have the power to achieve gender parity by making necessary changes to their practices and policies.” Informed Opinion has launched a national “Balance of Power” campaign to narrow the gender gap with the goal of achieving gender parity by 2030.  The Balance of Power campaign encourages all Canadians to write their MPs and get involved in its mission to achieve parity in politics. For more information and to join the campaign, visit https://www.balanceofpower.ca/.