Why women’s votes matter now

TheStar.com – Opinion/Contributors – With an Ontario election on the horizon and a Toronto municipal election in October, we need to be informed on the key issues that affect us as women – and make our voices heard at the ballot box, writes former MP Peggy Nash.|
March 26, 2018.   By

When I knocked on doors before and during election campaigns, it was fascinating to speak with people, especially women, about their political concerns. Each person expresses themselves differently, and often in surprising ways.

When it came to women, I found them to be passionately interested in a range of political issues. But they seem less engaged than men in political debates.

Yet women have so many concerns – gender violence, pay equity, the lack of and the cost of childcare, job insecurity, the state of schools, to name just a few. Because we experience these issues on a personal level, we don’t always connect them to political decisions. But we need to do that, and here are three reasons why:

  • Budgets matter: women tend to use more public services, from health care to transit to libraries. Women live longer and may need assisted care later in life. Women are also under-represented in the public workforce where they don’t often have access to better jobs, better pay and union representation. Moreover, government budgets dictate how much tax we pay, what kinds of services we receive and what infrastructure we have.
  • Representation matters: According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Canada ranks 59th in the world with women making up 27 per cent of our MPs. Why does this matter? When women’s voices join the debates in the corridors of political power, they tend to raise more issues of concern to women such as gender violence, healthcare funding, mental health, children’s welfare, and general social well-being. They make these more of a priority.
  • Women’s power matters: Women had to fight for the right to vote in Canada and worldwide. Federally, many women won this right in 1919, while Indigenous women were forced to wait until the 1960s to vote. Women’s votes represent their voice in government. If women don’t use that vote, they’re giving it away to others who do vote and they might not like the outcome. Wherever women are on the political spectrum, the right to vote is something that needs to be cherished and exercised.

The issues women care about are expressed in politics through elections, and between elections, in budgets, bills and other government decisions.

With an Ontario election on the horizon and a Toronto municipal election in October, we need to be informed on the key issues that affect us as women – and make our voices heard at the ballot box.

Peggy Nash is a distinguished visiting professor in Ryerson University’s Faculty of Arts and Community Services. She was Member of Parliament for Toronto’s Parkdale-High Park riding from 2011 to 2015.

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2018/03/26/why-womens-votes-matter-now.html

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