After last week, when I sent some tweets with the Women in Toronto Politics hashtag (#WiToPoli), I had a good friend ask me what that tag meant, and eventually it came down to why *I* was supporting it. It wasn’t an issue of him being AGAINST women in TO Politics, but his idea was that it was their fight, and why would *I* want to be involved.
So this was/is my response, not just to him, but to anyone who wants to know why we should all, regardless of gender identity, support this group.
For most of the last 2000 years, politics has been driven by a single group in the western world, Rich Males. There have been some noted exceptions within Monarchies where a strong woman has taken the throne (Elizabeth the First, Catherine of Russia) but in general, when it came to governance the voice of women was silent, or, at very best, only heard for a short time.
In the last 100 years, democracy has flourished and women have not just succeeded in gaining the right to vote, but have actually become the majority of voters under 64. Yes, that means in each election, women will cast more votes than men. And while a record % of women ran in the last federal election (80% of ridings had a female candidate), they still only make up just under 25% of the House.
But the numbers don’t really tell “why” this is important, and we should encourage more participation not just in voting, but in running, and governing, from women.
The experience of each human on earth is unique. No two people live identical lives, no matter how similar things may seem superficially. This experience is what we each bring to the table at debates, public meetings, and any other interaction. This experience also influences our decision making, our ideas for the future, and what kinds of things we want to see done.
While there is many things I share in my upbringing with even Rob Ford, I find the differences are what shines through. Those differences is what makes it a council, instead of a group of clones, agreeing to everything without debate.
There can be no single, larger difference for people growing up in the same culture, than that of gender identity. As much as I’d try, I would never, and could never, fully understand what it is like growing up female. When women get involved not just in politics, but in all aspects of social, economic, and political life, a new perspective is added. A change in the lens through which we see the world, and a voice speaking of experiences we ourselves cannot know. This voice holds new ideas, and new approaches to old ideas. This voice is women and men, immigrants and natives. It is straight, gay, bi, trans, and lesbian. It is you and me.
This voice is the most important thing in democracy.
This voice is Democracy.
And when we quiet one aspect we diminish the whole.