Celebrating a record number of women in federal politics makes Halifax’s Member of Parliament furious.
“It just makes my blood boil,” said NDP MP Megan Leslie.
Leslie was upset about a fax she received from Helena Guergis, Canada’s minister responsible for the status of women, in regards to International Women’s Day — which was celebrated around the world Sunday.
“The tone is supposed to be celebratory, but I read it and got really angry – 69 women out of over 300 MPs,” Leslie said.
She said it should be 50-50 and then voiced some ideas as to why women don’t stick it out in politics.
She admitted it’s a complicated issue, but believes it comes down to the long hours and the commitment to family many women have.
“I know in my heart if the roles were reversed and my male partner was the MP and I was not, I think I probably would have left him by now,” she said while chatting over coffee as the snow fell yesterday morning near the Halifax waterfront.
“If he were at home as little as I’m at home, I’d say that’s unacceptable.”
Many women get into these types of careers to achieve a goal, but they don’t stay because it’s not the lifestyle they want, Leslie added.
“I think the women who stay in politics or demanding careers like law, they have to have some fire in them that makes them love this.”
International Women’s Day began in the U.S. in 1909. Some countries like China, Bulgaria and Russia celebrate female achievements on International Women’s Day as a national holiday.
Women face different challenges all over the world. Some women don’t have any power, even over themselves, and are treated like property.
But in Canada, Leslie said women’s issues include the still-present glass ceiling because many women are paid 70 cents to what men get for the same job.
“When I think about International Women’s Day, I think child care is about women entering politics, child care is about women with HIV/AIDS being healthy, child care is about women staying in their chosen profession, but it’s not the only thing.”