Federal Party Leaders Not Up For Debating Gender Equality

August 12, 2015
Background media: Oxfam Volunteers, as part of the Up for Debate initiative during the 2015 federal election, created their own awareness campaign to encourage a political debate centered around women's issues.

Federal Party Leaders Not Up For Debating Gender Equality

One week into Canada’s federal election campaign, party leaders have failed to put women’s rights and gender equality issues up for debate.

The Up for Debate campaign, led by a broad coalition of 175 organizations, has collected over 50,000 signatures from people across Canada calling for a nationally broadcast leader’s debate on women’s rights and gender equality issues. But lack of a clear commitment from all political party leaders to participate in such a debate has put this plan on ice.

“During last week’s Maclean’s debate, the word ‘woman’ was only mentioned four times, and there was no discussion of women’s rights or gender equality,” said Kelly Bowden of Oxfam, a spokesperson for the campaign. “Without commitment to a standalone debate, and in the absence of discussion in other debates, life and death issues impacting women and girls in Canada are invisible in the federal election campaign.”

Indigenous women and girls in Canada experience staggeringly high levels of violence. Overall rates of violence against women and girls in Canada remain stubbornly high. Too many families continue to flee violence and seek refuge in shelters daily. And women continue to be paid less than men for the same work.

“We are part of the economy. Our security matters too. The ways in which we are affected by economic and security policy, for example, are different than the ways in which men are impacted,” said Jackie Hansen of Amnesty International. “We need to have these discussions, not just in small groups but at the national level. We need all our federal party leaders to all be up for debating the issues that impact women and girls in Canada.”

Party leaders have not yet discussed women’s rights and gender equality in debates, public events, or in the media since the election campaign started. Supporters of the Up for Debate campaign are engaging candidates and the general public across the country to make sure that issues impacting women and girls are part of the national discussion in the lead-up to the election. Should all party leaders make a clear commitment to publicly debating women’s rights and gender equality, the Alliance for Women’s Rights is committed to ensuring this discussion reaches millions of Canadians.

The Up for Debate campaign is led by the Alliance for Women’s Rights, a non-partisan network of over 175 women’s rights, Indigenous, human rights, and international development organizations, faith-based and community groups, unions, and business associations.

For further information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations
(613)744-7667 #236  

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