By Jasmine Pathak
History was made last month when Chrystia Freeland was appointed as Canada’s first female federal finance minister. While it is shocking that it took until 2020 for this “first”, gender representation has been a pervasive issue throughout the history of Canadian politics.
“It’s about time that we broke that glass ceiling,” Freeland said after being sworn in to take the oath of office. She has previously stated that a feminist agenda has been a key part of the Liberal government, and she is glad to be able to bring her experiences as a woman and a mother to the COVID-19 economic recovery she will now lead.
Women make up just over half of the Canadian population, yet continue to be underrepresented in political and professional leadership positions.
While Canada’s federal cabinet is now evenly split between men and women, only 27 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons belong to women. This figure places Canada as 50th in a recent international ranking of women in parliaments. When more women ascend to leadership roles, they become role models to girls and to other women. More women leaders will also influence the high-level decision-making that will pave the way toward gender equality
Why Is This Significant?
Having more women in leadership will help Canada to achieve gender equality. Women leaders in Canada will not only help influence decision-making around policies, laws, and management, but they will also act as role models and mentors for young women.
A KPMG study on women’s leadership found that:
67% of women reported they had learned the most important lessons about leadership from other women.
82% of professional working women believe access to and networking with female leaders will help them advance in their career.
86% of women report that when they see more women in leadership, they are encouraged they can get there themselves.
91% of working women indicated that it is important to them to be a positive role model for younger female colleagues in the workplace.
As Chrystia Freeland paves the way forward for other women in Canadian politics, we hope that young girls are able to see themselves in spaces they may have otherwise been discouraged from.