In June, Ontarians went to the polls. A record number of women ran for office and a record number of female MPPs were elected.
Donna Dasko of Equal Voice Toronto, a national non-partisan group dedicated to electing more women at all levels of government, says the increase from 30 women at Queen’s Park (28 percent of the legislature) to 38 women (35.5 percent of the legislature) is “a really significant jump.” It translates into eight more seats – eight more women at Queen’s Park.
While we still have a long way to go to see women equally represented in politics, Social Justice advocates are calling this a “breakthrough.” Some are even calling it a “tipping point.” Dasko says it’s the largest increase ever seen and that “something really significant happened.”
In 2010, the Dalai Lama proclaimed, “The world will be saved by the Western woman.” He understands that women have a critical role to play in shaping the future.
Maybe the “something really significant” that just happened in Ontario politics is the beginning of this new wave the Dalai Lama predicted.
Jennifer French, an elementary school teacher in Oshawa is part of this exciting trend. She became an MPP for the first time during the election. She says, “I’ve spent most of my professional life surrounded by strong, committed women who are driven to make a difference. I’m looking forward to continuing to be surrounded by strong, passionate and committed women in the legislature.”
Equal Voice believes gender parity in elected office is a matter of democratic representation. Since women make up half of the population, women should also make up half of the legislature. “If women are not there, “their” opinions…are not being expressed,” said Dasko. “I think there has been a sea change in attitudes around female leaders and this proves it again…I hope the political parties take notice: choose a woman and win.”
How do we fare in KPR in comparison? Not well. About 75 percent of the board’s employees are women yet only 25 percent of its senior leadership team is comprised of women. Women are significantly underrepresented at the senior level in KPR.
If gender parity is a matter of democratic representation as Equal Voice suggests, then women should comprise at least half (if not three-quarters) of the senior leadership team in KPR. Just as women have a critical role to play in shaping the future, women have a critical role to play in shaping education in KPR.
Debbie L. Kasman
Retired Principal and Author of Lotus of the Heart: Reshaping the Human and Collective Soul
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