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Diverse group of people at a rally.

The Problem

What We Know

Our elected bodies don’t reflect the rich diversity of the people they serve. And Canada ranks 63rd in the world on women in politics.

For democracy to be genuine, all voices must be represented in decision-making. Elected bodies that reflect our rich diversity deliver better outcomes for everyone, especially equity-deserving communities.

The Solution

Politicians and political leaders must do what leaders in 60+ other countries have done: take concrete steps to ensure that women and equity-deserving communities are effectively and equitably represented within Canadian politics.

Paths to Parity

Countries around the world have already taken substantial steps to achieve parity in their elected bodies. More than 100 countries have established minimum targets for representation and require political parties with meeting them. Canada can learn from their success.

Four Proven Strategies:

Early Ideological Change

Countries such as Iceland, Sweden, and Norway have integrated inclusive policies so gender parity is an integral and expected element of electoral politics. In many cases, governments promoted ideals of gender equality and political parties followed up with their own actions, like setting targets or adopting quotas to increase the number of women elected.

Parity Law and Constitutional Reform

Countries such as Mexico and Argentina have adopted parity laws and constitutional reforms that mandate women’s inclusion as candidates for national elections. In these countries, political parties face sanctions if they fail to comply. Some countries have adopted parity laws after having had gender quota laws in place for many years. Others adopt parity outright.

Mandatory Quotas

Countries like Costa Rica and Chile have passed laws requiring all political parties to apply gender quotas when they choose candidates. Penalties could be financial or result in the disqualification of parties who do not comply.

Electoral Reform

Countries like New Zealand have totally reformed their electoral systems, abandoning outdated first-past-the-post systems to ones that increase diversity and representation in politics (such as Proportional Representation or Mixed Member Plurality).

Early Ideological Change

Countries such as Iceland, Sweden, and Norway have integrated inclusive policies so gender parity is an integral and expected element of electoral politics. In many cases, governments promoted ideals of gender equality and political parties followed up with their own actions, like setting targets or adopting quotas to increase the number of women elected.

Parity Law and Constitutional Reform

Countries such as Mexico and Argentina have adopted parity laws and constitutional reforms that mandate women’s inclusion as candidates for national elections. In these countries, political parties face sanctions if they fail to comply. Some countries have adopted parity laws after having had gender quota laws in place for many years. Others adopt parity outright.

Mandatory Quotas

Countries like Costa Rica and Chile have passed laws requiring all political parties to apply gender quotas when they choose candidates. Penalties could be financial or result in the disqualification of parties who do not comply.

Electoral Reform

Countries like New Zealand have totally reformed their electoral systems, abandoning outdated first-past-the-post systems to ones that increase diversity and representation in politics (such as Proportional Representation or Mixed Member Plurality).

Iceland - Women in Politics: 57.6%, Current IPU ranking: 7. Sweden - Women in Politics: 46.4%, Current IPU ranking: 10. Norway - Women in Politics: 45%, Current IPU ranking: 14.
Mexico - Women in Politics: 50%, Current IPU ranking: 4. Argentina - Women in Politics: 44.8%, Current IPU ranking: 15. Belgium - Women in Politics: 42.7%, Current IPU ranking: 20.
Costa Rica - Women in Politics: 47.4%, Current IPU ranking: 8. Spain - Women in Politics: 43%, Current IPU ranking: 19. Chile - Women in politics: 35.5%, Current IPU ranking: 41.
New Zealand - Women in Politics: 50.4%, Current IPU ranking: 4.

In the winter of 2022, we asked dozens of political insiders for their perspectives on the existing barriers and potential solutions for the greater representation of women and equity-deserving communities in Canadian elected bodies. What we found echoed many of the findings of Elect Her, a report from the standing committee on the Status of Women published in 2019.

Barriers

Exclusionary Recruitment Practices

Economic Inequality

Care Work

Sexual Objectification and Harassment

Toxic Culture in Political Spaces

Solutions

Inclusive Recruitment and Nomination Processes

Dedicated Funds

Childcare Solutions

Sexual Harassment and Cyber Violence Policy

Cultural Change Processes

How does Canada measure up?

Political parties have the ability to Balance the Power, and some have already prioritized recruiting women and equity-deserving candidates.

This map reflects data about women and does not encompass a full range of diversity in representation. It provides a baseline for how far we have yet to go to achieve parity in our elected bodies. Hover your cursor over each province or territory to see how they measure up.

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