On March 8 the face and gender of Parliament changed as 338 young women between the ages of 18 and 23 filled the seats of the House of Commons to represent their riding.
The historic event, known as Daughters of the Vote, was organized by Equal Voice and sponsored by several unions including Unifor to promote the participation and involvement of women in politics.
Joining the Daughters of the Vote in Ottawa was a delegation of 22 Unifor women that came from across the country and represented different sectors, ages and identities. Unifor women were invited to participate in the Daughters of the Vote event to be empowered by women’s representation.
Greeting the Unifor delegation was Lisa Kelly, Women’s Director, Deb Tveit, Assistant to the National President and Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director. In a pointed conversation filled with humour, Tveit reminded the group that “nice women never changed history.” Kelly followed up by stressing the need for women’s involvement to push for change and demand more because “the system isn’t just broken, it was built this way, but together I know we can change it.”
To coincide with International Women’s Day, the Daughters of the Vote were called upon in Parliament to make a one minute speech. 30 women presented on issues ranging from electoral reform, suicide and mental health, sexual assault, the need for a living wage, access to post-secondary education, and there were several demands for Indigenous rights and improved funding for Aboriginal services. Some of the most pointed and powerful voices came from interventions that called for action on racism and Islamophobia.
Unifor women left Parliament feeling empowered and motivated by the powerful voices. Remarking on the speeches Rizvi said, “This is the hope for our future. It is just the beginning of what is to come. What’s important now is that Unifor women get active to make this kind of government possible.”
National President, Jerry Dias was also on hand to observe the event and participate in a He for She panel that followed the Daughters of the Vote event. Speaking to a packed room Dias said, “There is a need to change the politics of this country and to do that we need you – the women, and especially women in the union - to bring forward a bold vision.”
For more information visit: daughtersofthevote.ca