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OLIP Speaker Series III:Women in Politics

On February 23, 2021 we hosted the third event in our OLIP at 45 Speaker Series: Women in Politics. This event brought together exceptional leaders from across the Canadian political landscape to discuss the challenges, opportunities, and possibilities that exist for women in the field of politics. We were thrilled to have with us Jenica Atwin, Member of Parliament for Fredericton, Janet Ecker, former Ontario Minister of Finance, Education, and Community and Social Services, and moderator Dr. Kate Graham, Professor at Western University and Huron College and the 2022 Ontario Liberal candidate for London North Centre. Senator Frances Lankin, former Ontario Minister of Health and Long Term Care, Economic Development and Trade, and Government Services, was, unfortunately, unable to join us on event day but we were thrilled to have her participate in the planning and lead up to the event.

Listeners were treated to compelling accounts of the panellists’ unique paths to politics. Along the way, both faced the common challenge of being the “first”. Interestingly, while being the “first” posed challenges, including being underestimated and coping with imposter syndrome, it also came with opportunities, such as inspiring the next generation and bringing a valuable new perspective to the table.

The panellists also discussed COVID-19, and specifically its impacts on women in the Canadian workforce. Ms Ecker mentioned that working from home has disproportionately impacted women, and argued for the importance of a strong childcare system in an equitable economic recovery. MP Atwin touched on the pandemic’s impact on the predominantly female workforce in long-term care, and the effect that domestic violence has had on the health of women globally. Both panellists also discussed the unique intersectional challenges that Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) face in political spaces and the role of mentorship in encouraging and supporting BIPOC women to run for elected office.

Thank you to all of the panellists and to our amazing moderator Dr. Graham for such a fascinating, thought-provoking discussion. We are so grateful that you took the time for this panel! Thank you also to our Speaker Series sponsor, AMAPCEO, and to AMAPCEO District Director and OLIP Alumna Jennifer Harewood, who gave an excellent introduction. We are looking forward to our next panel, Trust in Elections and Elected Officials, on Tuesday, March 23, 2021.

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