QUEBEC CITY – The bi-election in Chicoutimi Monday has three women candidates vying for office.
However, in general, the number of women considering a career in politics remains well below 50 per cent.
Now, two unlikely allies are trying to change that.
Former opponents and premiers Jean Charest and Pauline Marois have joined together to promote gender parity in the National Assembly.
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“It’s a challenge for generations to come,” Charest said.
Women have made gains over the last thirty years, but recently, the numbers have started to drop.
Nearly a third of MNAs in 2012 were women, but in 2016, that number dipped to 28 per cent.
“We cannot get rid of the patriarchal character of institutions with the flick of a magic wand,” Marois said.
Instead, she’s promoting a more pragmatic formula by supporting a committee to look into options for gender parity laws.
“Over 100 countries have rules in their politics for gender parity, so I think Quebec and Canada are starting to ask themselves if they’re not too late. I mean, they’re really at the end of the train,” said Pascale Navarro, author of Femmes et Pouvoir.
According to the latest figures from the United Nations, Canada ranks 60th for gender parity.
Quebec is slightly higher than the national average, but nowhere near Rwanda where 64 per cent of elected officials are women.
Quebec is also out-ranked by Cuba (49 per cent) and Mexico (42 per cent), but ties with Afghanistan (28 per cent).
“For me, it’s important to have more women in politics, more women in the power circles,” affirmed Lise Theriault, Minister for the Status of Women.
For now – and for the next provincial election – there are no promises.