The halls of government used to be a male-dominated domain. In many places and in many ways, that’s still the case, but things are changing. The ongoing SNC-Lavalin controversy is doing its part to elevate the influence of female members in Canada’s federal government.
When former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould refused to buckle to alleged pressure to use her position to stop criminal prosecution of the Montreal-based engineering firm, she demonstrated both her courage and her integrity. When high-profile Liberal Jane Philpott resigned Monday as Treasury Board president, it prompted an abrupt change in the message coming from the prime minister to one more conciliatory in nature.
Make no mistake, the so-called “weaker sex” no longer has to take a back seat in government circles.
We see that in our own province, where Rachel Notley holds the post of premier and Shannon Phillips, one of Lethbridge’s two MLAs — both women — holds the high-profile title of Minister of Environment and Parks and the Minister Responsible for the Climate Change Office.
This year’s International Women’s Day was recognized on Friday and the campaign slogan for 2019 is “#BalanceforBetter.” The day’s official website (www.internationalwomensday.com) notes, “A balanced world is a better world.”
The United Nations website says, “The 2019 theme ‘Think equal, build smart, innovate for change’ focuses on innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure.”
The UN goes on to say the recognition day is an opportunity to “celebrate a future in which innovation and technology creates unprecedented opportunities for women and girls to play an active role…”
We don’t have to look far to see women who are serving as inspiring examples, not just for young girls but for others, too, of not being afraid to go against the grain in creating opportunities. One such example is Canadian golfer Brittany Marchand, who is starting her second year on the LPGA Tour. According to a story from the Canadian Press last week, when the Orangeville, Ont. native was fielding offers from U.S. universities, she made it clear her intent was to study chemical engineering while playing NCAA golf. Several schools told her it wasn’t possible to play varsity athletics while working toward such an academically rigorous degree, but she finally found a taker in North Carolina State University. Now Marchand encourages young athletes to pursue their dreams in sports and in education at the same time, and she has become an ambassador for the Golf Canada’s Future Links Golf in Schools.
Wilson-Raybould has clearly shown she isn’t afraid to go against the grain, despite the cost. She’s a shining example, too, as an Indigenous woman “navigating a system that’s still stacked against her,” as MacLean’s magazine points out in a March 5 story.
It’s women like these whose grit and determination should be celebrated not just on International Women’s Day, but beyond. Women do have an important role to play in our world, and as they continue to inspire the next generation, we can expect that role to grow in the future.