The Canadian Minister for the Status of Women, Patricia Hajdu is quoted discussing difficulties faced by women entering politics. The voices of women are needed in government and even a code of conduct against harassment are not enough to remove barriers built on 'vitriol and hate':
Patricia Hajdu said one of the most difficult parts of being a politician came early on. Male rival candidates in her riding weren't thrilled when she won, Hajdu said. "I was the first Liberal candidate in my riding to run and the first woman to win that riding," she said. "At the beginning I faced a lot of pushback and it was very uncomfortable."
Hajdu refers to the abuse heaped on female politicians with the most recent examples including responses to ‘Elbow-gate’ and comments made about women and climate change. Hajdu said those incidents were discouraging to her personally and could act as deterrents to other women considering a life in politics. While Canada is making strides toward gender equality in some areas, there is still a lot of room for improvement in the political arena.
Members of Parliament must sign a code of conduct that addresses harassment in the workplace. Hajdu said she is currently working with the House Leader Dominic Leblanc to modernize workplace conduct and harassment policies in Canada to make women feel safer and more encouraged to pursue a life in politics.
"Part of it is about setting a tone and climate, but part of it is actually having a structure that is strong, that will actually support people regardless of the party they are in," she said.
"I think when you add women, you actually do change politics significantly," she said. "I think it's really much stronger when you have women at the table. They have the lived experience of being a woman. Just like anything else, I think policy is strengthened when you have stakeholders that represent those perspectives at the table."