British Columbia

Historic initiative helps young women find a home in the House

CBC's The Early Edition speaks with two B.C. women who are fighting for more representation in government through the Equal Voice's Daughter of the Vote initiative.

Delegates from across Canada will shadow MPs this week as part of initiative to increase women in politics

A historic initiative organized by the non-profit Equal Voice is sending 338 young women aged 18 to 23 from every federal riding in Canada to the House of Commons to shadow their respective MPs. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Only 88 out of the 338 members of Parliament in Canada are women, but on March 8, 2017, every seat in the House of Commons will be filled by a young woman.

They'll be there because of the Daughters of the Vote initiative spearheaded by Equal Voice, a multi-partisan organization that aims to increase representation of women in elected positions at all levels of political office.

It will be sending a young women aged 18 to 23 from every federal riding in Canada to Ottawa to shadow their member of Parliament.

I had heard many things about women not being good enough for politics.- Peggy Chen, youth representative for Richmond Centre

The historic initiative marks 100 years of suffrage for some Canadian women. The adjacent conference features speakers, workshops and activities to cultivate future women leaders, and takes place from March 6 to 9.

Rae-Anne LeBrun and Peggy Chen are two B.C. women heading to Ottawa for the initiative.

Peggy Chen (left) will represent Richmond Centre, and Rae-Anne LeBrun (right) will represent Vancouver Centre. (Roshini Nair/CBC)

Chen, a youth engagement coordinator with the YWCA, said she never saw a future in politics for herself when she was growing up.

"I had heard many things about women not being good enough for politics or you need to be more aggressive to be in politics and I think that's an issue," she said. "That makes it even more important for us to be there."

LeBrun, who is a student at Douglas College and a youth worker with the Urban Native Youth Association, said she would eventually like to enter politics.

"Sometimes I think that we have goals that we don't think about but our energy says 'hey you're meant to do this,'" she said.

"I've never been surrounded by women who are so powerful and willing to make change. I'm hoping that's what will allow that seed in my brain to grow and become a great tree."

Politicians should listen to young women

As for what they'd like to see from politicians already in the House, both Chen and LeBrun asked that they take the time to listen to concerns from young people and in particular, young women.

"I would like to see them come to our communities, come to our events, come to our meetings and see what we have to say," said LeBrun.

"Often when a young person shows up, the default is that they are too young and they don't have the experience. They don't have the expertise," Chen added.

"We are here. We have lived experience."

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled Young women head to Ottawa to shadow MPs as part of political initiative