CSU Hosts Panel for Women in Politics

Looking into the ways in which women in politics navigate the inequalities present in their profession

Sheila Arellano // News Editor

Over 60 Capilano University students, staff and faculty, community members and university donors gathered on Mar. 6 to conduct a panel to discuss the structural barriers that exist for women in politics. “We started planning for this in January by contacting all the panellists to see if they would be interested. Then we created marketing materials and started advertising, then worked behind the scenes to ensure all the logistics for the evening were planned out,” said Emily Bridge, CSU President and Vice-President Equity & Sustainability.

The structural challenges women go through was a forefront topic during the panel. Each panellist, along with moderator Libby Davies, contributed to the conversation by adding their own unique perspectives and experiences. Bridge commented on how women often don’t have the necessary resources to get involved in politics due to societal expectations and family demands. Together, the panellists discussed funding mechanisms to aid women and other marginalized groups to participate in the traditional political realm. Campaigning takes time, energy and money, which can become barriers preventing women from entering politics. “The expectations are still there that women will be the ones to travel home on weekends to care for their family and that by entering politics you make a choice to put your family and personal life on hold due to the demands of the profession,” said Bridge. 

Women still are not equally represented in traditional political structures, especially women of colour, and this is a gap that needs to be addressed. Observing the societal structures that have led to persistent inequities and helping underrepresented groups participate is crucial to the evolution of the political world. “There is no doubt about how seeing someone that looks like you in a profession or workplace helps open up additional possibilities for what you can achieve, and that matters,” said Bridge. “We need women at the table and we need women who fight for all women.” 

The work women do often goes unrecognized in the public and private spheres. The work of Indigenous women, the women in Latin America, and women all over the world who are fighting to survive and build a better world for their children. It is rare when their work is recognized, and still, women take on the emotional burden of this work willingly. “This is something that I’ve experienced even here at CapU: men repeating things I’ve said and being listened to even when I was dismissed, colleagues just expecting I’ll do their work for them because I’ll always get it done, and even a lack of respect in my ability to be a leader just because I’m a woman,” said Bridge. “These things are tricky to pinpoint; they slip through your fingers as you try to grasp onto them.” 

“Politics isn’t just running for office in whatever level or capacity it may be, it’s also about sharing your beliefs and opinions with friends, working in your community, showing up for causes you believe in and advocating for others,” Bridge said. “I just hope that if any womxn or non-binary folks are interested in getting into politics, whether traditional or otherwise, that they feel empowered to do so because while some days are long and hard and frustrating, they are also so incredibly rewarding and you do see real wins.”

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