Unions are a good place for women to get started in political activity, where they will learn vital skills and build their confidence, Peggy Nash, the NDP MP for Parkdale-High Park, told Canadian Council this morning.
“When I first entered Parliament, and faced heckling from my Conservative counterparts, I thought this is nothing – you should see some of the ratification meetings I’ve been to,” she said.
Nash called on the union leaders in the room to actively encourage women among their membership to get involved, and to then support them as they do.
“If I hadn’t been asked, I wouldn’t have run,” said Nash, who began her political career by getting involved in her union local.
NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau, has fought for affordable childcare, which would enable more women to not only support their families, but to further their education and get involved in their communities and politics.
“As a single mother, I struggled. I needed affordable child care,” Brosseau, the member for Bertier-Maskinongé, told Canadian Council.
“We need to encourage women to run for politics,” she said. “Women need to take their rightful place,”
Nancy Peckford, executive director of Equal Voice, pointed out that only 25 per cent of the members of parliament today are women, and will likely increase past 30 per cent after the October 19 election.
“We are making incremental improvement,” she said. “But until women have an equal voice, we have a lot of work to do.”
Peckford said unions must make a real effort to get more women involved.
“Solidarity in the labour movement, and I’m speaking to the men here, means encouraging your sisters to play a role,” she said.
“It means occasionally sitting down and letting her speak.”