To The Editor,

I would like to respond to Ms. Noble’s letter on the issue of “women and politics”. Let me begin by saying I understand that some people, including some women, do not believe there are any gender specific barriers. I recognize that Ms. Noble is highlighting the fact that women have the capabilities and should get involved in politics. Recognizing that fact does not prevent us however from looking into why women are not as present in politics, examining what factors influence their absence or their presence and what, if any, efforts are required to making this happen.

Ms. Noble raises many interesting and important points, most of which anyone would agree with. Looking for an explanation is an effective manner to understand the underpinnings of issues and identify solutions.

Campaigning does take time and effort and financial output. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, women’s time and financial resources tend to be more limited. Looking into latest Statistics Canada information, we learn that women still tend to earn less money. Though the situation is improving, lack of financial resources from many years of lesser pay, due to job status or maternity leaves, is still very real for many women.

Ms. Noble is right: ‘No one should assume that childcare is a 100% female responsibility’ and women who are successful in politics require supportive partners. Not all women are in that situation; indeed many women have no partners. Also, looking into family responsibilities’ distribution, women still tend to spend more time on family-related tasks  than their male partners. As well, childcare services are extremely costly and in our region, availability and affordability are seriously lacking in rural areas.

Indeed as Ms. Noble concedes, some of the skills needed to “survive” in the political arena can be learned. Organizations that offer such training are to be commended and supported and perhaps Ms. Noble should consider offering her support and advice on learning these. The fact that Ms. Noble acknowledges that she was exposed to many sexist jokes reinforces the fact that things need to change. Sexist jokes are no longer acceptable in any environment in 2019 and that is a good thing, for us, our daughters and our sons.

Boys and men today are taught differently. They are taught to listen, to respect as well as to look for ways to contribute to effective work relationships.

We all want the same things as Ms. Noble, that is for ‘everyone, male or female, to believe that they have an equal opportunity, should they choose to’.

Politics is no longer just an “old boys club” today because competent women and men have worked hard to move in that direction. Interestingly, organizations that have greater gender balance in their management, countries with greater parity in their government have demonstrated greater effectiveness and success. We all need to work together to meet this challenge.

Hélène Grandmaître,