Activist Monday: Merci Beaucoup, Justin Trudeau
Posted November 9, 2015on:
Good Monday, everyone! Amongst all the American political cray-cray so well-documented by my fellow Widdershins last week, a story came out that made yours truly say, “Ooh la la!” The prime minister of Canada made a strong statement for gender equality last week when he announced that his cabinet would be comprised of 50% women.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made headlines Wednesday when he announced that half of his Cabinet ministers are female, a decision he justified with the simple explanation that “it’s 2015.” The move won him international praise and more than a few swoons.
Canada isn’t the first country to take steps to increase women’s representation in government. The countries with the most female lawmakers have made major strides on issues such as education, labor force participation, and paid leave. Each of the countries below has either a parliament or a ministry that is at least 50% female, while women make up only 19% of the U.S. Congress and only four of Obama’s 15 cabinet members.
“We know that companies with more gender balanced leadership teams significantly outperform companies with only men at the helm,” says Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, CEO of Twenty first, a consulting company that focuses in building gender-balanced businesses. “Why wouldn’t this be even more true at a country level?”…
Sacré bleu! Why indeed?
The story goes on to list other countries that are kicking American *ss when it comes to effectively supporting the striving, struggling and successful (yes, I love that sound bite from Hillary as well. Just perfect.). Not surprisingly, this includes Sweden and Finland…but also, Rwanda. Mais oui, ladies and gentlemen – we are behind Rwanda, thanks to its commitment to the 30% solution.
However unhappily it came about, the new female legislations helped pass laws allowing women to own land and open bank accounts. A quota introduced in 2003 mandated that 30% of all government roles be reserved for women, and only women can vote for these women-only seats. Fittingly, it’s women who have felt the benefits. Rwanda now has a lower maternal mortality rate than other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 87% of women are in the labor force– compared to 57% of the women in the United States, according to International Labor Organization data cited in the Clinton Foundation’s No Ceilings Report.
It is so very important to change the political conversation in America. Our Congress is basically a non-functioning body, stuck between extreme right-wingers, moderate right-wingers, and semi-liberals. The extreme right-wingers are bent on pursuing an agenda of handing the rest of the country’s wealth over to the top 1%, while making sure that women and non-Christian, non-white males are suppressed to the greatest extent possible. (Hmmmm…and I thought transferring wealth was a BAD thing, according to the wingnuts!) The moderate right-wingers are being steadily sidelined by the wackadoos in the “Freedom Caucus,” and the semi-liberals are vocal, but outnumbered. This makes the stalemate amongst the opposing viewpoints difficult to overcome. Add that to the lackluster-to-nonexistent opposition put up by our “Commander” in Chief, and you have a government that does very little but bloviate, posture and preen.
Since 2008, I have felt that just “electing Democrats” will not change anything. To truly move this country forward, I think we have to elect female Democrats, AND we need a President who is also a woman. Because we are not Canada, Finland, or Sweden, and apparently don’t care to replicate their successes, we cannot count on a male President being enlightened enough to make his cabinet 50% women. (The only one to come close was, unsurprisingly, Bill Clinton.) A Hillary Clinton Presidency is the only way we will start moving towards equal female representation in government, and the only way that women’s rights will ever take their place as human rights in America.
Until that long, long, LONG-awaited Inauguration Day in 2017, merci beaucoup, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for being one of the few international leaders willing to step forward into the 21st century, and provide his people with a Cabinet that is set up not just for gender equality, but for success.
This is an open thread.
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