Reva Seth in Canada is launching a political index to report on gender equity in Canadian politics. One area of focus is to see whether the gender of local party officials bears any relationship to the gender of candidates put forward by the party locally.
At democracy5050 we advocate for mandating equal gender representation in the electoral law.
Reva describes how there has been a lot of talk but few results towards securing equal gender representation:
These next few days are like festival season for political people: in Winnipeg the Liberal party is gathering for the 2016 Biennial Convention while over in Vancouver, the Conservative Party are also in the midst of their national convention.
Gender equity and increasing the number of female candidates will be a hot topic for both. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his core team have made this a clear priority for this Liberal Party and for the Conservatives, a more gender inclusive party has to be an essential part of their renewal efforts.
The bar has been raised on expectations.
And yet, despite PM Trudeau's ground-breaking appointment of our current gender balanced ministerial cabinet, Canada still has a long way to go before the political landscape is conducive to supporting genuine gender equity.
There's the everyday sexism that Michelle Rempel described in her op-ed; the near daily online abuse that Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips says she receives and the hard fact that the numbers of women elected to the House is only incrementally advancing.
Canada still has a long way to go before the political landscape is conducive to supporting genuine gender equity.
According to the UN a minimum 30 per cent female representation is required to actually have an impact on policy and practice and to reap the benefits that increasing the number of female representatives would generate.
And to be clear, the case for gender equity in Parliament goes beyond arguments of fairness and representation (even though those should be enough).
Research consistently shows that increasing gender equity in government (just as in the private sector) results in increased prosperity for a greater number of citizens.
So why are we stuck?
Although political parties, activist organizations like Equal Voice and concerned citizens have been long been both calling out and working to advance this issue -- actual progress has been incremental.
To actually change the ratio of female MPs we need to also focus on changing the gender ratio of the core positions and roles which form the architecture of the political system and which in turn also help set the tone of the political climate and landscape.
The Globe & Mail described the last election as a "landslide for the Liberals but a glacial creep forward for women in Parliament. Canadians voters elected 88 female MPs putting female representation in the House at 26 per cent -- a 1 per cent increase since 2011."
Equal Voice observed that, "...at this rate it will take another 11 federal elections to reach anything approximating gender balance on the ballot. That's about forty-five years."
Clearly it's time for a different and I would argue a more holistic approach to this issue.