‘Just keep fighting’: Female MPs offer advice to their younger selves

A new video from a Canadian nonprofit organization shows female MPs speaking to their 20-year-old selves.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has a strong message for her 20-year-old self in a new video produced by non-profit organization Equal Voice.

“You will hear from people that you aren’t good enough, that you don’t have the networks, that they are more connected,” quips McKenna in the clip, which launched online on Wednesday. “Don’t listen.”

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The video features 11 female MPs encouraging their younger selves to do whatever they want in life — including getting into politics.

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It’s part of a broader effort to recruit more young Canadian women into politics at a time when only 26 per cent of MPs sitting in the House of Commons are female.

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That number will skyrocket to 100 per cent next March, however, when Equal Voice says it will bring 338 women aged 18 to 23 to the nation’s capital — one from every riding — to take their district’s designated seat in the House.

The event is set to coincide with both Canada’s 150th birthday and International Women’s Day. The participants will also be called upon to create a concrete plan to help achieve better female representation on the ballot.

That plan will then be delivered to leaders of all federal, provincial and territorial parties.

With youth voter turnout up sharply in the 2015 federal election, Equal Voice believes the time is right to ask young people for their help in tackling the persistent problem of gender inequity in politics,” said Equal Voice executive director Nancy Peckford.

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In addition to McKenna, the promotional video for the initiative features some of the most outspoken and high-profile female members of Parliament, including Conservative Lisa Raitt, the NDP’s Niki Ashton, Liberal Celina Caesar-Chavannes and Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

“Just keep fighting, keep your head up, and don’t let the bastards keep you down,” May quips.

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Anita Vandenbeld, the Liberal MP for the riding of Ottawa West—Nepean, said it’s not just politically involved young women she wanted to reach with her participation.

“There’s a 20-year-old woman out there who has never even thought about politics who will see this video,” she said.

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That person could hold incredible potential, Vandenbeld explained.

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Young women are being encouraged to apply before July 1 to become part of what is being dubbed the “Daughters of the Vote” initiative.

A selection committee made up of five members will choose the winning applicant in each riding. Each committee will be made up of two regional politicians, said Peckford, and three people from outside the political sphere. Every committee will also include an Aboriginal representative, she added.

Interested applicants can click here.

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