Political Literacy Campaign: Get To Know The Issues Important To You

Political Literacy Campaign: Get To Know The Issues Important To You

How does this connect to you?

Throughout this course we have explained the general facts of our political landscape. We want to make sure that you know why Politics is so incredibly important to you specifically, and why it should resonate with you on a personal level. 

Something small such as voting holds a large impact for women and People of color. At the time of Confederation, the vote was limited to property-owning adult white males. This was common in most democratic countries at the time. The effort by women to achieve the right to vote is known as the women’s suffrage movement. Its founder in Canada was Dr. Emily Stowe, the first Canadian woman to practise medicine in Canada. In 1916, Manitoba became the first province to grant voting rights to women. In 1917, thanks to the leadership of women such as Dr. Stowe and other suffragettes, the federal government of Sir Robert Borden gave women the right to vote in federal elections — first to nurses at the battle front, then to women who were related to men in active wartime service. In 1918, most Canadian female citizens aged 21 and over were granted the right to vote in federal elections. In 1921 Agnes Macphail, a farmer and teacher, became the first woman MP. Due to the work of Thérèse Casgrain and others, Quebec granted women the vote in 1940. This is all to prove that the process of getting women the vote was a long work in progress. The story of how it came to happen in Canada is important to you as a woman since it shows just how much your voice counts



Women in Politics

The status quo is that politics and being involved in politics is a Man’s game. Only recently have more women started to be involved in the government and policy change. This section of our course will help to personify politics and relate it to the Muslim women and minority women who may be reading.

The Glass Ceiling Effect

This concept refers to the idea that there are invisible barriers in place that prevent women and minorities from reaching the top in a workspace. It is something that is working to be broken.

Women Stories:

The concept of getting involved in politics can seem daunting. But as women, and particularly minority women, our strength lies in the experiences we hold and the perspectives we bring. Just because there is a lack of women at the top, or Muslim women, does not mean it should remain that way. Below is a small compilation of a few influential women in politics that started off small, maybe like many of us, yet were able to drive themselves to success all while maintaining their identities. The purpose of sharing these stories is to humanize the lawmakers we see. The more we realize that they have stories and are people like us, the less impossible it seems to be in a place of politics or in a legal job if wanted. When reading these, try and personify their experiences by maybe recalling similarities you may have to these women. You will find more than you expected.


Maryam Monsef:

Maryam Monsef is the MP for the Peterborough-Kawartha area and also the minister for women and gender equality and rural economic development. Her detailed title encompasses the fact that she was the first Afghan-Canadian in Parliamentarian history and the first Muslim to serve in Cabinet. She introduced Canada’s first strategy to end gender based violence and transformed the status of women from a federal agency to a full much needed government department. The aforementioned are all incredible barriers and developments, all of which seem impossible to follow, yet her identity as an Afghani woman living in Canada is not an uncommon situation. Her mother moved her and her two sisters through Pakistan, Iran, and Jordan fleeing the instability of Afghanistan, and ending up in Canada. Her country and her history and culture are important to her. Along with her political aspirations, she co-founded the Red Pashmina campaign which aims to raise money for women in Afghanistan. She went to Trent university, a school not far from many of us, and then took the plunge by running for mayor in 2014. Although she did not win, the Liberal party chose her to represent them in the upcoming election. Her story is brave and inspiring, she overcame her uncertainty in coming to canada and simply decided to do what she wanted. Years later it paid off and she began to make politics work for her by forcibly demanding she create new and important changes for women and refugees. 

Iqra Khalid:

Liberal MP Iqra Khalid started off not unlike many people who may be reading this course. She is a woman of Pakistan descent, a Muslim and someone close to her family. She moved from Pakistan at a young age and grew up in Mississauga. After going to York for criminology, she studied law, and then began to work in the legal sector of her community. Now she sits in the house of commons as a Pakistani woman proud of her heritage and continues to advocate for topics she is passionate about. Her story and success is important because she is a representative of a very common category living in Canada. Mississauga and neighbouring areas are filled with diversity, particularly South Asians, and Middle Easterns. While she is an extremely smart individual, and evidently worked hard to get where she is, Iqra is not unlike many who may be reading this. She is from a small town, a visible minority and an immigrant. She is just one example of how Muslim women can get involved in politics and succeed.

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez:

Also known as AOC, Alexandra is one of the freshman (newer) legislators in the United States Congress. Born in the Bronx into a working class family, she is of Hispanic descent. For most of her twenties, she worked paycheck to paycheck after the death of her father, working in different places, until she had her first taste of politics during college, where she began interning for senator Ted Kennedy’s office. Her story represents a large majority of women in the US and in Canada, living in lower income neighbourhoods. Cortez stated to her friends that she learned early on that wearing hoops and nameplate necklaces might be fine in the Bronx, but it would not work if she wanted to be taken seriously in a job interview. Her culture and identity from where she grew up, tells the story of many eager young women hoping to make it into politics, but knowing that the box of so called professionalism required to make it big means that they might need to change part of themselves. As an outspoken young woman from the Bronx, with her signature bright red lipstick, AOC was able to break those barriers, maintain her proud Hispanic identity, and speak for progressive democrat policies in her place in Congress

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