Thursday, August 16

Half of Canada lacks clout in cabinet

Female representation stuck at 22 per cent

Women have not gained clout or numbers in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet and some critics are saying that women were the big losers in this shuffle.

The 32-member cabinet has seven women – the same 22 per cent ratio that Harper had in his past two cabinets. Women accounted for between 24 and 28 per cent of the Liberal cabinets in the years immediately preceding the Conservatives coming to power in 2006.

Moreover, there are virtually no women in the frontline ministries and none in charge of the areas that Harper identified as priorities for his government, such as crime, the economy, Canadian sovereignty and the environment. In the last cabinet shuffle, Rona Ambrose was shuffled out of the environment post and replaced by John Baird.

She says while Harper is keeping women's numbers down and putting them in "pink portfolios," Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion is on track to have one-third of his candidates be women in the next election and has vowed that they'll have the same representation in any future Liberal cabinet

LINK: TorStar


Julian Benson said...

Now at the risk of being labelled a chauvinist (I hope I'm not), it seems to me that the number of women in Stephen Harper's cabinet is superficial. After all, even if women had a majority in the Conservative, or even a Liberal, cabinet they are still going to be putting through the same measures that enforce and strengthen the socio-economic system that is the root cause of oppression against women in the first place.

It just strikes me as a sort of capitalist or bourgeois-feminism that advocates more women in oppressive and exploitative posts. Was Margret Thatcher a step forward for women kind? After all she was responsible for a major drop in the standards of living for millions of working class women (and men).

It's my opinion (just an opinion) that the exploitation of women stem directly from capitalism (see: A Conservative female cabinet minister represents the interests of your average working-class woman about as much as a Conservative male cabinet minister. I think this debate needs to be more focused on the class question at the root of female oppression rather than on cosmetic changes at the top of the system. As a socialist once said, "no socialism without women's liberation, no women's liberation without socialism."


Julian Benson
The Red Menace

Lucy said...

Julian, Women's oppressions consistently cuts accross class boundaries, but it expresses itself differently depending on the woman's economic situation. There is no guarantee that more women in power means that things will be any different; but then again, we have never seen that situation manifest itself. We still have no clue because women have never actually made up 50% of any Canadian or British government (to my knowledge, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.)Remeber that Thatcher was still pandering to a cabinet dominated by conservative men, most of whom were looking to see her fail. They were placing bets on watching her 'feminine weakness' cloud her judgement. She was much more ruthless than most men in power because she had to prove that women could be ruthless, decisive and thus be 'good' conservative leaders.

There have been socialist revolutions, but for some reason, on the most part, women were still excluded from positions of power and decision making. Why do you think that is?

Lucy Anacleto,
The Pink Possum