Manitoba Women First Granted Suffrage a Century Ago


Nellie McClung, a prominent suffragette.

Almost a century ago, women in Manitoba were granted the right to vote. This unprecedented action sparked change on the federal level when women were given the right to vote nationwide in 1919. Women of colour did not get the right to vote until the late 1940s and Indigenous women did not get the right to vote until 1960.

The suffragette movement at the time was fragmented and full of conflicting opinions. Some women rallied for temperance because they believe that alcohol destroyed families and led men to withhold money from their families and beat their wives. Some unions and farmer’s groups supported women’s suffrage as well.

Notable members of the Political Equality League included Nellie McClung, Cora Hind and Lillian Beynon Thomas as well as many other activists.

The women created a stir when they performed a provocative play at the Walker Theatre in Winnipeg. They parodied Manitoba Premier Rodmond Roblin, and acted out a parallel world where women had all the power. Roblin’s government was voted out the following year and the Liberal government granted Manitoba women the right to vote.


Women and Politics Media Roundup – Week One

This is a new feature that we’re trying out on the blog! EV Volunteer Bernd will be doing media monitoring and selecting and summarizing key stories about women and politics this week. Take a look and feel free to share and leave comments.

IMF Head Christine Lagarde: Exclusive Interview
The Daily Beast, June 23rd

Why should you read this? Simply put, Christine Lagarde is one of the most important people in the world today, and this is a great place to get her story. The article does a fantastic job painting a picture of what her life is like, what her day to day concerns are, how her management style gets results, and the extremely trying time the world is in financially. As the head of the IMF, Christine is tasked with bringing the reality and depth of the financial crisis to economic leaders all over the world. She’s tough, capable, and decisive, and the article does a great job of talking about her role in a pivotal developmental organization.

Simpson Miller daring to take Jamaica in different direction
The Toronto Star, January 15th

This article discusses some pretty controversial comments made by Jamaican Opposition leader Portia “Sista P” Simpson Miller (not kidding about the nickname). Simpson Miller is making a courageous stand against discrimination of gay and lesbian individuals by arguing that cabinet positions should be decided solely based on merit. For those who don’t know, Jamaica has a long, sordid history of homophobia, and her comments are being met with a great deal of reaction (lots of it negative). So raise a glass to this brave Caribbean political leader who shows the kind of change a woman in power can make.

New Law in Mauritius Raises Profile of Women in Politics
Africa: The Good News, January 19th

Mauritius the “wealthiest, best governed country in Africa” (according to the Globe and Mail), has recently come up with a law that has interesting implications for female political hopefuls in the area. The law, which came into effect January 1st requires that at least one of the three representatives in the local elections (due by April of this year) must be women. This development is being met with celebration by women’s rights groups, who see this as a great way to get more women involved in the upcoming elections. However, many groups are also complaining that women shouldn’t need a “hand up”, and that they already have the tools to compete in what is one of the freest democracies on the continent. Whichever side you agree with, this is certainly an interesting situation to keep one’s eye on as the elections draw near.

The Globe and Mail also reported on this story.

Does the GOP have a problem with women?
The Guardian, January 10th

This article from our friends across the pond (The Guardian) looks at the recent history of the US Republican party, and asks a pressing question; what happened to the female leaders? The article describes the recent dearth of female leaders within the GOP. The analysis is pretty deep and goes into political factors like differing values (Conservative women tend to have more kids, and are sometimes penalized for their pro-life views), and the fact that, although women have shown that they will support female candidates, they tend to skew left in their voting preferences. The article concludes by arguing that the Tea Party may be a source of future female Republican leaders because of its heavy slant towards women in leadership roles. In this way, the author argues that Michelle Bachman, may have done a great deal towards mobilizing conservative women. Definitely a good read.

Female Politicians Inspire Women In India To Pursue More Education, MIT Study Finds
Huffington Post: Women, January 18th

This Huffpost article talks about a new study at MIT about women, political power, and social change. The researchers went to hundreds of villages and tried to determine what kind of educational expectations the parents had for their children, as well as what the kids expected for themselves. Towns with female political leaders (especially in the West Bengal area) were particularly interesting for the researchers. In towns with women in positions of power parents had the same educational expectations for girls and boys, and girls were more than 25% more likely to achieve the same educational standards as the boys in their community. This is a massive improvement over large swaths of India, where equality between girls and boys is rare. The researchers attribute the difference to a role-model effect. In essence, female politicians show everyone that women can lead and take charge effectively, which makes young women strive for more. This is a great example of life imitating art, and shows that even things as daunting as the social fabric of a country can be changed with hard work.

Gabrielle Giffords to resign from Congress
The Globe and Mail, January 22nd

This bittersweet entry marks a down note in the inspiring story of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Gabrielle survived a gunshot wound to the head from an assassination attempt last January. She made a heroic return to Congress for an important vote, and wrote a book with her husband during her hospital stay. She has decided to step down from Congress to fully concentrate on her recovery. We wish nothing but the best for her.

Campaign aims to get more women into politics
HTR News, January 22nd

If you were looking for another group like Equal Voice, you might want to keep an eye on what’s brewing south of the border. Key female leaders of political advocacy groups in the US are coming together to develop a campaign to try to double the number of female Congress members and governors within 10 years. The campaign, entitled Political Parity, hinges on several factors including the voting spike that occurs during presidential election years, and a redrawing of Congressional districts. These factors are seen as giving ambitious women an excellent opportunity to grab a record number of seats. Like Equal Voice they are trying to impress on women the idea that they can and should run in upcoming elections (HTR News cites numbers that indicate that male lawyers are 16% more likely than their female colleagues to consider running). Political Parity’s message is simple; talented women are all over the place, we just need to give them the tools to run.

McEntee: In politics, real women can do it
The Salt Lake Tribune, January 16th

This editorial reiterates a lot of what Equal Voice is all about. It talks about many of the unique concerns that women have with running for office, and argues that the process is not as daunting as it seems. This is an inspiring little read for anyone who feels like they aren’t cut out for the job. Politicians are just people like you and me, and the author goes to great lengths to argue why women should join their ranks in greater numbers.

GQ Doesn’t Think There Are Too Many Powerful Women in DC
Jezebel, January 23rd

This piece from the ever-entertaining Jezebel editorializes GQ’s recent selections for the 50 most important people in Washington. Their main complaint is that of the 50 spots, only 8 belong to women, (two of whom share the spot with their husband), while people like former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi were left off in favour of much less well known candidates. It’s hard to argue with Jezebel on this one, and they give some great examples of women who deserve a spot. I don’t know too much about American politics, but this is a good read if you like funny, aggressive blogging about women’s issues.

Register Now for Equal Voice’s Leadership Summit!

Equal Voice invites you to its Tenth Anniversary Leadership Summit and Recognitions Reception scheduled for Thursday, March 10th and Friday, March 11th, 2011 at the Government Conference Centre in Ottawa, Ontario. Leveraging Women’s Leadership for the 21st Century: Changing the Game, the Summit will celebrate Equal Voice’s tenth anniversary and the global centenary of International Women’s Day, and discuss how to tackle one of Canada’s most persistent democratic deficits.


Over one hundred of Equal Voice members and supporters, elected representatives, academics, members of the media and young women from across the country will gather in the Nation’s Capital to explore the challenges and opportunities facing women in politics in Canada today.


DEEP ROOTS, STRONG WINGS LAUNCH: Equal Voice will launch its on-line campaign school customized for First Nations, Métis and Inuit women.
TALES FROM THE BRINK – Running for Office: The Top Ten Things Women Must Know about Running for Nomination/Winning the Campaign
ARE WOMEN FRAMED TO FALTER?: Reflection on the Media
THE CULTURE OF POWER (AND POLITICS): How to get things done
HOW TO HAVE A LIFE (OR SAVE IT): Lessons from the Trenches
DOING IT DIFFERENTLY (and why it matters)

Equal Voice is also hosting a Youth summit on Friday afternoon (March 11th 2011) so that young women can discuss strategies and tools to getting more involved in the political process.


– Hon. Rona Ambrose, PC, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women
– Hon. Michael Chong, PC, Member of Parliament, Wellington –Halton Hills
– The Hon. Sheila Copps, PC, Former Deputy Prime Minister
– Susan Delacourt, Senior Writer, Toronto Star
– Martha Hall Findlay, Member of Parliament, Willowdale
– Deborah Gillis, Senior Vice President, Catalyst
– Shari Graydon, Informed Opinions
– Jen Hunter, Candidate, Green Party of Canada
– Nancy Karetak-Lindell, Former MP, Nunavut
– Lisa MacLeod, Member of Provincial Parliament, Nepean-Carleton
– Alexa McDonough, PC, Former Leader, New Democratic Party
– The Hon. Lisa Raitt, PC, MP Minister of Labour
– Laura Peck, Vice President, McLoughlin Media
– Steve Paikin, Anchor, The Agenda, TVO
– Joanne St. Lewis, Professor, University of Ottawa
– Jane Taber, Senior Political Writer, Globe and Mail & Co-Host. CTV’s Question Period


– Hon. Rona Ambrose, PC, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women
– Trine Skei Grande, Leader, Liberal Party, Norway
– Jennifer Lawless, PhD, Director, Women & Politics Institute, Associate Professor, American University

Learn more about EV`s Keynote speakers!


In addition, on the evening of Thursday, March 10th 2011, Equal Voice will host a Recognitions Reception to honour ten women at the national level who have paved the way for women in politics. As such, both the Summit and Reception will offer excellent networking opportunities for young women who are seeking to get more politically involved.

Special Guest: Mary Walsh, Perfomer/Writer


Equal Voice has also reserved up to one hundred spaces for students/young women under the age of twenty six to register- FOR FREE. A $10 fee for the Recognitions Reception will be charged. Due to the demand for these spaces, student ID or proof of birth date will be required at the door.

We expect these spaces to fill up quickly so encourage you to register! Equal Voice uOttawa will see you there, and we’ll be posting a follow up to the summit right here on our blog!

Canadian Women’s Movement Archives

When university students use the library, many of them do not realize that there is a great depth of resources that goes beyond what they find in the stacks. There are statistics, microfilms and archival information, among other useful research sources. At the University of Ottawa, there are many different archives, from the rare collections to the history of the university itself (and the students!) to the Canadian Women’s Movement Archives. Buttons from the women's movement

Why my sudden interest in these archives? Well, to be frank, it is really cool that we have this great source right at the University of Ottawa. What’s great about archives is that they hold more than just books; they hold the primary sources that people write books about. There are button, signs and pictures from political rallies, posters from campuses, community organizations and groups from all over Canada. The material refers to mostly contemporary events, that is, after 1960. They have an entire archive dedicated to the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, a group that has been important on many levels of women’s equity. In terms of politics, the archives have minutes, reports, budgets, and pretty much anything anyone could think of to save about a variety of topics, from the feminist protest about snuff films in Toronto to both pro and anti abortion organizing to pictures from women marching on Parliament Hill.

I bring this up because, during one of my recent visits to the archives, it dawned on me how inspirational I found these items. It showed me how women made change happen, just like women with Equal Voice are working towards. We are making history, and even though I know this could be getting a little too feel-good, that’s pretty cool. And that’s why I’m so excited for Equal Voice’s Leadership Summit next Thursday and Friday, March 10, in Ottawa! Free for students too!

Yes, a woman can!

“A esperança que elegeu Lula agora vai derrota...
Image by Aloizio Mercadante via Flickr

I recently read an article in the Economist about Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Rouseff. While this should be a moment of celebration, especially for women in politics who fight so hard to make it to the top levels of government,  it’s frustrating to read that women are so often harshly criticized for their rise to power. While admittedly, I am unfamiliar with the detailed history and intricacies of Brazilian politics, I was shocked read the author’s questioning and subtle support of Rousseff’s critics  toward her abilities to be a distinct leader.

From my own reading and brief research about her, she appears to be a competent and an intelligent woman who has been very active politically. She was a part of a left-wing urban military group  in the 1960’s that fought against the military dictatorship. Rousseff was captured and jailed between 1970 and 1972 and reportedly tortured. This clearly experienced and powerful woman has been actively involved in politics throughout her career, to name a few as State Secretary of Energy and before her presidential win was Chief of Staff for Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the president she succeeded.

This particular critic on the Economist’s team further illustrates this the challenges that so many women politicians face– the idea that they are undeserving of their positions. A quote directly from the article “Ms Rousseff will have to convince the doubters that she is not simply Lula in lipstick.” Grossly sexist, critics make her win seem undeserving and her abilities as a leader yet to be proven.   In spite of  this, Rousseff has not even taken power yet and  has not been given the opportunity to prove her abilities to perform in the best interests of Brazilians. But in my humble opinion, she was selected by Brazilians and frankly doesn’t need to prove anything more than anyone else. Others obviously beg to differ–Why? Because she is a woman taking over from a mentor that is a man.  Naturally, a man must be running the show, right?

On a secondary, but related note. Rousseff’s win inspired me to find out some other powerful female leaders from other parts of the world…. So, as I did my search –I typed in “women politicians” and “female politicians”.  Overwhelmingly the results were dominated by results such as ” Hottest Female Leaders from across the world” or most “beautiful women politicans”. . .

While, I don’t doubt that all, any or some of these politicians are beautiful, it got my gears grinding that, there were so few results for “Powerful Female Leaders” or women leaders that were making change. Shallow much? It’s frankly disenchanting that there is such little respect for women who are in positions of power and who may not be the most beautiful. Hmm, could be too scary of a idea to be both. However, on a more positive note, I did manage to find an excellent compilation article, which was actually about action, capability and achievement of the “Top Ten Female Politicans from around the world” (and not specifically about their appearance, ugh.)  A special mention here, third on the list is Dilma Rousseff who said following her victory in Brazil’s election “I would like parents who have daughters to look straight in their eyes and tell them: ‘Yes, a woman can,’’.  Dilma Rousseff and these other politically powerful women serve as broad and varying examples of women who come from all walks of life and have contributed and continue to contribute to politics. Thus far, these women broken down through the glass ceilings in politics and risen to be leaders of their countries . Finally, something encouraging.


We here at Equal Voice UOttawa have a lot of work to do here in Canada toward promoting women in politics. We’re working toward breaking down barriers, providing the resources and tools women need to have not only a role in politics, but also vie for the most powerful roles in politics  …. Because ultimately, in the words of Rousseff, “Yes, a woman can!”


Here’s a quick reminder of what EV UOttawa has going on…

Tonight, Tuesday, November 16  is YOUNG WOMEN IN POLITICS: Speakers Panel and Round Robin from 7:00pm – 9:30pm at the University of Ottawa in Desmarais Building – Room 12102

Next week — Wednesday, November 24  from 7:00pm – 10:00pm  Equal Voice’s present’s “Will She Run?” in Cafe Alt
An event with the goal of inspiring young women at UOttawa to run in the 2011- 2012 campus elections.

Be sure to get out there and support women in politics or learn how you can get directly involved!