Anita Vandenbeld, guest speaker at Equal Voice uOttawa’s AGM on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, inspired female university students to make themselves heard and get involved in politics, at any level. Currently involved in politics on the international stage, Vandenbeld joined the Young Liberals at the age of fifteen and ran for a federal seat in the 2011 election. She said Canadian women are lucky compared to women in other countries who disappear, are threatened and intimidated by rape or violence or have their families threatened or killed. In Canada, women can run without a threat to their security, although the media has been known to brand feminists or women’s rights’ experts as “man-hating lesbians” or “another ranting angry woman”, which she has experienced first-hand.
She explained how we have a lot to learn from the experiences of other countries and the website: http://www.iknowpolitics.org is instrumental in promoting international networking, support and dialogue. In addition, she shared an interesting videoclip of her recent work in the Congo, in which Congolese women explain (in French) their interest and motivations for getting involved in politics. She asked the pertinent question, “How do you increase interest in the younger generation?” Part of the answer lies in involving men in the conversation. Role models are also important and there are too few female mentors. One important piece of advice she gives to young women considering politics is: “Go for it and don’t use the crutch that you like to stay behind the scenes!”
Special thanks to Hilary Hampson for contributing this post