Young New Brunswick women get crash course in politics
Daughters of the Vote program wants to inspire women to run for office
Ten young women between the ages of 18 and 23, each representing one of New Brunswick's federal ridings, got a crash course in the life of a politician this week.
On Tuesday, they met for the opening of the New Brunswick legislature.
Leila Leclerc of Florenceville said until now, she never thought about getting involved in politics.
"We had a little discussion earlier and talked about the reasons why women don't run, and I think after hearing that, the wheels started turning in my head just a little bit," she said.
Not enough women in politics
Leclerc is part of an initiative called Daughters of the Vote, which hopes to inspire 338 young women from across the country to consider life in the political arena.
The program is sponsored by Equal Voice, a national, non-governmental organization funded by the Department of Heritage.
One hundred years ago, a group of women in Manitoba, all of them white and involved in the military, won the right to cast a ballot. But according to Equal Voice, the last century hasn't moved things forward enough.
Daughters of the Vote now brings young women together to talk about what prevents them from getting into politics, what inspires those who do, and what difference does it make to have women occupy some of the seats in both provincial and federal governments.
Melina Bouchard, youth engagement co-ordinator for the program in eastern Canada, said only about a quarter of parliamentary seats are occupied by women.
That puts the country near the bottom of the pack internationally, she said.
"Our position at 63 (parliamentary seats) is not good," she said.
"And we are not a role model for other countries when it comes to gender parity in politics, all levels of politics."
Going to Ottawa
On March 6, the 10 young women representing the province will be flown to Ottawa, along with their counterparts from across Canada.
There they'll meet with their members of parliament and get to take over the House of Commons.
Melissa Martel from St. Quentin said she is already involved in many community events, including being president of the 2017 Francophone Games.
She said women don't have many role models in politics. But after visiting the legislature on Tuesday, people may yet see her name on a ballot, she said.
"I want to do it, because I want to change the world," she said. "I want to represent my community."