Canadian campaign to increase female representation:

A non-profit has launched a unique initiative to help achieve gender parity in the House of Commons.

Equal Voice, a multi-partisan organization that has nine chapters across Canada, including one in northern Alberta, announced this week the launch of a year-long youth engagement strategy to accelerate progress on the election of women to public office called ‘Daughters of the Vote.’

The organization will call on 338 young female leaders – one from each federal riding across the country – to create an innovative action plan to help achieve substantially better representation on the ballot.

The plan will be delivered to leaders of all federal and provincial/territorial parties in 2017, marking 100 years of women’s formal political engagement in Canada.

‘One of the things our chapter is specifically focused on right now is asking women to run for office,’ said Lana Cuthbertson, chair of the Alberta North chapter of Equal Voice.

‘Another thing that we’ve been kind of have been noticing lately is that it’s really important that women who are currently in office speak about some of the challenges that women specifically face.’

Young women, aged 18 to 23, will head to Ottawa to literally ‘take their seat’ in Parliament on International Women’s Day on March 18, 2017, and have their voices heard.

While in Ottawa, the young women will be tasked with identifying strategies to achieve progress towards political parity, be it through party pressures and incentives, better use of technology on the Hill, or by introducing more women-focused policies. 

‘The highly visible achievement of a 50/50 gender-balanced federal cabinet has created a false perception that Canada has made significant progress on closing the gender gap between men and women in national politics,’ Nancy Peckford, executive director Equal Voice, said in a statement.

‘However, the reality is starkly different. In fact, between 2011 and 2015, the percentage of women elected to the House of Commons was virtually stagnant, moving from 25 per cent in 2011 to just 26 per cent in 2015. With Daughters of the Vote, we hope to sow the seeds of significant change.’

At the current rate, political scientists estimate it will take another 90 years to achieve gender parity in Parliament, Peckford added.

To promote the initiative, Equal Voice also released a video, featuring 11 female MPs, addressing their younger selves. 

June 30 is the deadline for applications to participate in Daughters of the Vote, including an all expenses paid trip to Ottawa. Applications are available online at

Founded in 2001, Equal Voice brings women and men together from across the political spectrum to achieve gender balance in Parliament.