Equal Voices works to empower women in politics

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Graphic by Alan Li

March 25, 2018 marked the founding meeting of Equal Voice for the Waterloo Region.

Equal Voice is a national multi-partisan organization with the mandate to elect more women to all levels of the political office.

The offices of Catherine Fife, member of provincial parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo and Katherine Bergman, president and vice-chancellor of St. Jerome’s University, organized the event to host local women from the KW community for Equal Voice.

The meeting had just under 100 women and allies attend in support of KW being accredited to the third chapter of Equal Voice in Ontario.

Equal Voice in KW now has 18 individuals on the steering committee that will shape the direction of the club moving forward.

Sunday’s event hosted a Women in Politics panel that included, Bardish Chagger, a member of parliament, Lori Campbell, the director of indigenous initiative at University of Waterloo, and Tracey Weiler, a former conservative candidate for the riding of KW.

The local equal vote initiative of Waterloo Region was inspired by the daughters of the vote which took place in 2017 in Ottawa where 338 young women from across Canada took their seat in the House of Commons to commemorate some women getting the right to vote.

“Fife and Bergman were so inspired by the daughters of the vote initiative, we need to have something that happens all the time, every year,” Carly Pettinger, constituency assistant to Catherine Fife said.

“We need to be talking about getting more women elected and supporting more women to become elected all year around so that is exactly what this vocal chapter will aim to do.”

Equal Voice is the only organization that brings women together across the country and across the political spectrum to advance women’s representation in elected office, as stated on their website.

Sunday’s event hosted a Women in Politics panel that included, Bardish Chagger, a member of parliament, Lori Campbell, the director of indigenous initiative at University of Waterloo, and Tracey Weiler, a former conservative candidate for the riding of KW.

“There was so much interest [in Equal Voice] we ended up having co-chairs, co-vice chairs, co-memberships and we didn’t want to say no to anybody because the interest was so great,” Pettinger said.

The next meeting for the local Equal Voice has yet to be determined by the steering committee since the initiative is waiting to become officially accredited in Ontario.

“It’s concerning that we don’t have any LGBTQ folks, we don’t have any racialized folks elected municipally and those are two things I am committed to supporting women from those groups to see some different representation,” Pettinger said.

“It’s concerning that our elected officials locally do not reflect the make-up of our community so I hope we’ll change that.”

Leave a Reply