I recently sat surrounded by a room full of engaged and passionate women who, for an 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning start, were extremely passionate about the topic of the day: women in politics. The event held in Peterborough, hosted by the YWCA, was the first of its kind to address women entering the world of politics. Startling stats were shared as we kick-started the morning on the prevalence of women in politics in Canada. Women sadly represent only 24.7% of seats in Canadian government and we rank 46th in the world for the number of women in our country's three levels of government. The agenda addressed concerns of local women as to why women don't run in politics; how the local media works in addressing politics; the financial and audit aspects of what it takes to run; and actual training and role playing of what it would be like to run in politics or help support someone in running their campaign.
It was a truly amazing day to say the least and being surrounded by that much positive energy from other women of all ages was simply incredible and truly inspiring.
BUT, while I left feeling inspired and hopeful that many more women would be entering the political area in the near future, it also became apparent to me as to why women aren't running in politics and taking a stab at making change for our local communities, provinces, or country.
Along the lines of Sheryl Sanberg's book "Lean In" I believe women aren't "Speaking Up" like they should be and like they can. Hearing women of all ages that day at the event, address the same concerns of "sensitivity, "caring what others thought," "not thinking their opinions were valid enough," "thinking what they have to say doesn't matter"... it made me realize that we as women are our biggest challenge, obstacle, and barrier to getting involved and making a difference!
WE as WOMEN hold ourselves back!
We as women aren't allowing ourselves to stand out, speak up, and take our turn to "lean in!" While YES, we balance different priorities and responsibilities then our counterparts on the home front; YES we have different biological responsibilities; and YES some may argue that women aren't given the same opportunities as men because of gender inequality, the reality is at the end of the day, BUT we all have the same opportunity at least we're fortunate enough in Canada, to SPEAK UP, to say what we want to say, and make a difference!
It is time for women alike, of all ages and generations, of all ethnicity and backgrounds in Canada to stop being our own worse enemies and SPEAK UP when you believe you have something to say! It might just surprise us all who will listen. I'm not saying it is going to be easy (nothing worthwhile ever doing is!) and I'm not saying we aren't going to face different challenges than our counterparts who will run against us; but at least knowing that by SPEAKING UP, you are taking the first step in the right direction in overcoming what is holding us back as women: ourselves.