An organized push is on for gender parity in the New Brunswick legislature and a new group has officially formed to lead the effort.
The goal of Women For 50% is to have women make up half of the candidates running for each party in the 2018 provincial election.
As of 2017, eight of 49 MLAs are women, that’s just 16 per cent and lower than previous years.
Co-chair Roxanne Fairweather said for her, the need to push for gender parity started in 2014 when she attended the opening of the legislature under the, then new, Gallant government.
“I had a visceral reaction to the number of women that were on the floor,” Fairweather said. “So we had elected eight. Six were there that day and to see six women in a sea of men hit me like a ton of bricks.”
One of those eight MLAs said women have a lot to offer in government.
“Raise the profile of women in terms of their leadership capabilities and to help them as well, to do the next step and to put their name on the ballot, but not only that, to help them to win,” said Conservative MLA Madeleine Dube.
Runs in the family
Women For 50% has a family connection as well.
Former New Brunswick Women’s Liberal Association president Ann-Marie Tingley, whose daughter Robyn is a founder of Women for 50%, gave seven female candidates $100 for shoes to go door-to-door in the 1987 election, where they all won.
“I always said that I hope to live to see the day that my daughter will not have to be involved in politics through a women’s group,” Tingley said. “Here we are again today. She’s involved with a women’s group, but this time they’re going to succeed.”
Robyn said they’re trying to reach their goal by engaging both women and men.
“There’s more awareness than ever before and we’re putting a framework in place across the province to help women, educate them,” Robyn said. “We’re calling on men to open their knowledge, their networks and be part of the solution.”
The next big event for the group will be a conference Feb. 13th at the Richard Currie complex at the University of New Brunswick.