Gender Equality – Success Stories: Canada

Gender Equality – Success Stories: Canada

Gender equality can have a series of forms, each has its meaning. In this series, I would like to enumerate a couple of success stories of countries that implemented this principle in their governments. The latest cabinet (elected in 2015) consists of some real idols (even women). Justin Trudeau (the son of the legendary Pierre Trudeau) is the current leader of this cabinet. When he was elected, he gave a short speech. Below is a famous conversation between him and a journalist.

Journalist: You said your cabinet looks a lot like Canada. I understood that one of your priorities was to have a gender-balanced cabinet. Why was it so important to you?

Trudeau: Because it’s 2015.

His cabinet has set an example for the 21st century. Half of the ministers are men, half of them are women. I have to add that Trudeau placed special attention on the fact that a minister should be an idol for the people. One of his ministers was (until 2018, when he had to resign) a paraplegic lawyer. Who should be an idol for the war veterans? Many of them are tied to wheelchairs for life. So who is the idol? Someone who had also experienced the same feeling earlier. Another minister who used to be responsible for sports affairs (nowadays she is the Minister of Public Service) is a former professional athlete. A Paralympian, one because she was born blind. Being visually impaired, she gained three bronze medals in swimming, representing Canada. Therefore a whole nation became proud of her. This means she is an excellent choice for a minister. She became a lawyer when she retired from professional sport. A Minister of Sports should be someone who is widely respected among fellow sportswomen and sportsmen, not someone who is placed there for political interests. Fortunately, this minister is one of the former.

One common critique of the predecessor, the Harper Cabinet, is that it was not really into science. Well, Justin Trudeau is a science geek (he used to be a teacher) and sometimes conducts lectures at university. More importantly, he appointed a Minister of Science. Who is the best icon within science? Someone who has a Nobel Prize and is a woman! Scientists are almost exclusively men, especially within medical geography (she published a book on the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic). Moreover, she is researching climate change as well, and her efforts resulted in a Nobel Prize in 2007 (within a team). Who else can be better in this position? A scientist with a Nobel Prize. Another example-setting minister is the former Minister of Health. She is a physician by profession. Who could know more about health than a certified doctor with twelve years of experience? Unfortunately, she had to resign after a corruption scandal. She also set another example: she was the first real medical doctor to hold this position. Not only is she an expert in family medicine, but she also researches HIV/AIDS, which is a common issue even nowadays. When she became a minister, she had to address many serious issues besides the former one. At that time, the Zika virus was an alarming one for the Canadian population (the virus might cause microcephaly in newborn babies), on top of the refugee crisis. The Canadian government set another example. They accepted 25,000 refugees. Last but not least, with her lead, the government paved the way to legalize cannabis all over Canada, but there are restrictions on that. For example, you are only allowed to possess up to thirty grams over the age of 18. This issue was preceded by tons of debates. First of all, cannabis had been illegal since 1938. In 2001, the government opened the doors for medical cannabis, but only if a doctor had approved it previously (1). Then, the Liberal government tried to loosen the ties further, the first attempts towards decriminalization took place in 2003 and 2004. These bills both failed due to American pressure. The succeeding Conservative government did not take care of this issue anymore. Cannabis was legalized in 2018 (2), making Canada the second country in the Western hemisphere to legalize the drug after Uruguay. A female leader will make things happen. Because a woman takes the meaning of “care” more seriously.

With this article, I wanted to encourage thinking about which countries are more open-minded. Where are women oppressed and repeatedly humiliated, even publicly? Or, where do women just require you to comply with the rules? Think about my first video again. At school, the teacher is a woman and is scanning around to check compliance. Compliance is the key to success. That’s why women in prominent positions require you to comply. Think about that slap when I wrote about discipline. I am sure that if that one had flown from a female teacher, it would have made more of an impact on the student. The student would have screamed. Or think about the Headteacher of my primary school. She deserves a lot of respect. She used physical punishment only once when she slapped a disrespectful student. The student fled from the school, but later he realized that the teacher was right. So, we should think again where women should be in our society as sometimes we find ourselves at loggerheads with the fact that we are not mature enough.

– Gergely Lázár

  1. The Cannabis Act of Canada: The Legal History of Cannabis in Canada
  2. Cannabis was legalized in 2018: Marijuana to Be Legal in Canada Starting October 17, Trudeau Confirms
  3. Everything about the super-government of Canada: 29th Canadian Ministry

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of #WAYSWF.

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