Four weeks ago I started a new Leadership in the Workplace class thanks to the Workplace Education Program, Department of Labour and Advanced Education and the Spryfield & District Business Commission. For the first time my class ratio has more female participants than males, and multigenerational. I recognized that I had to address women and leadership and training from a feminine perspective and it is enlightening to have such a perspective embraced by men.
As we began looking at female leaders and world famous female leaders, the question I posed to participants was “What if, on November 9, 2016, we woke up and we have a female president in Hilary Clinton? What would change for you?” What would our world look like? For example, there are 195 countries in the world, or 196, if we counted Taiwan. In addition, there are 193 members of the United Nations. In terms of gender balance, to date, we have 22 women leaders. I have attached a list of my most favourite world female leaders. See if you can create your own list.
The conversation about Gender Equality and Gender Parity has become more prominent in recent months. Our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is perhaps the first world leader to call himself a feminist and to promote Gender Equality. Canada is fast becoming known around the world for having a cabinet that comprises equal parts of women and men and Justin Trudeau has been congratulated on many occasions for the work he has done. Prime Minister Trudeau has now taken the role of youth champion for the UN Women’s HeForShe initiative, a campaign that aims to bring gender equality to issues such as education, health, identity, work, violence and politics.
In the past, Canada was seen as very accepting of multiculturalism and has gained tremendous notoriety in the past few months for being a diverse and inclusive society. Many questions are being asked if Justin Trudeau is “for real or is he bogus.” Promoting the message of diversity and inclusion cannot remain with Justin Trudeau alone. Everyone has to make gender diversity and gender equality a priority. The same message has to come from parliamentary advisors, policy makers, law-makers, and those who are in influential positions and in particular the media.
This is an opportunity for us in Nova Scotia to capitalize on our own diverse and balanced Legislative Assembly which was alive and well before Justin Trudeau’s. We have the opportunity to share and lead other provinces and territories on the issue of Gender Equity? What role do our female leaders play? What lessons can we learn from them? How can we prepare our youth and society to be more conscious of our lack of inclusivity? According to the Human Resource Research Agency Ernst & Young (EY), we will have to wait for 117 years to get Gender Parity and Gender Equity. The clock is ticking.
In the coming weeks we will have an unprecedented number of women of colour knocking on our door asking for our votes. Iona Stoddard and Shelley Fashan have featured prominently throughout our trailblazer series. However, we have a new name added to our list this week.
Meet Rana Zaman, first Muslin –Pakistani woman candidate for the NDP. Congratulations to Rana and we wish her every success in her campaign. A full profile will follow later.
After our own municipal election on October 15, what do you think would change if these women champions become our leaders? How will you choose to support them?
Diversity and Inclusion are not new to Nova Scotia. Our province has been diverse in race, gender, religion, disability and gender expression for a long time. We also have legislation to protect us. It is however, unfortunate that some segments of our society elects to be ignorant, immune to change and the impact of discrimination.