NDP Demands Gender Equality in the House of Commons

"We must all strive to achieve full equality for all Canadian women.": Irene Mathyssen

OTTAWA - The NDP's Women's Equality Caucus is challenging the Conservatives, Liberals and Bloc Quebecois to meet the standard set by New Democrats in the past election in supporting women candidates and helping elect more women MPs.

"Standing here as 41% of our caucus is no accident," said NDP Status of Women Critic and vice chair of the Status of Women Committee, Irene Mathyssen (London Fanshawe), as she stood with the other female members of her caucus in front of the Women Are Persons statue on Parliament Hill. The Monument is a tribute to Nellie McClung, Irene Parlby, Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards, commonly known as the 'Famous Five', who won the "Persons" Case of 1929 which legally declared women as persons under the British North America Act.

"The NDP has an affirmative action plan in place to ensure equal representation in the House of Commons is possible," Mathyssen continued. "New Democrats have shown, we can do it. And we are here today to tell the other parties that yes, they can too.

"Beyond politics, we must all strive to achieve full equality for all Canadian women, and indeed for women everywhere. Our daughters deserve nothing less."

The NDP is the only party with a formal policy of freezing nominations until there is a member of an affirmative action group seeking the nomination. Affirmative action candidates for the purpose of NDP policy are those individuals who identify as belonging to groups significantly under-represented in the House of Commons and are included in the equality rights section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Those groups are women, youth, LGBT, persons of visible minority, persons living with disabilities and Aboriginal peoples.

"Women can and do make a real difference in the House of Commons." said NDP House Leader, Libby Davies (Vancouver East). "A political party with 41% women is a great start, but there is still a long way to go."

"Women have waited a long time to be full partners in the decision-making of our nation. Women compromise more than 50% of our population; now our challenge is to achieve at least 50% of the representation of our political institutions" said Former NDP leader Alexa McDonough (Halifax).

The NDP Women's Equality Caucus challenges all parties to work towards equal representation. A challenge also goes out to women from all walks of life to get involved in politics.

This Press Release was posted on April 10, 2006
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