Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ontario Elects Record Number of Women....

Ontario has a newly elected provincial parliament and it turns out that they have elected more women than ever before. In the new legislature, there will be 30 women politicians out of 107 seats. That means women represent 28% of politicians in the legislature. Okay, so it's still pretty sad that we can't even get to 30% in Ontario... but we must celebrate even the small victories that women make because they are the result of a lot of work!

TORONTO - More women than ever were elected to Ontario's legislature Wednesday, but female politicians and advocates say there are still plenty of obstacles left to equality of the sexes in politics.

In the last legislative session, 26 of the 103 seats were held by women, but after Wednesday's vote, at least three more females will be headed for the legislature - putting the total at 30 of 107 seats.

"I think it's just wonderful," said Rosemary Speirs, past chairwoman of Equal Voice, a lobby group dedicated to expanding the number of women in politics.

"I think it means that our challenge to the party leaders to nominate more women seems to have worked."

Each of the three major parties ran more female candidates during this campaign, with the Liberal party registering the largest increase - 38 compared to 23 in 2003.

The Progressive Conservatives ran 24 female candidates this year, three more than it did in 2003, while 42 women ran for the NDP compared with 34 in the previous election campaign.

There is now at least 28 per cent female representation in the legislature, however that percentage is lower than the national parliaments of Rwanda, Peru and Macedonia, but higher than Canada's federal Parliament.

"I'd like to see one-third as a starting point," Speirs said.

"One-third is generally considered the critical mass, where women's voices really have to be heard and headed. We were hoping to reach that this time."

Women in politics admit their jobs are demanding, but insist a few tweaks to the traditional domestic lifestyle make it possible to balance the job they love with family life.

"It is really fulfilling," said Andrea Horwath, the NDP candidate for Hamilton Centre who has represented her riding since her byelection win in 2004.

"My three years at the legislature have really shown me that it's extremely important to have the voices of the women there.

"I'm not saying we're better than our male counterparts but we certainly bring a perspective and a way of doing things that's different."

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