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Celebrating the 50 women elected in Nova Scotia politics and encouraging more in the future

Dal students launch a scholarship fund to inspire female Poli Sci students
We chat with Grace Evans and Sarah Dobson about their vision to encourage and inspire female Political Science students through a new book and scholarship fund.

Despite 40 elections and more than 150 years in Canadian Confederation, only 50 women have been elected as members of the Nova Scotia Legislature.

In that time there have been more than 750 men.

A pair of students at Dalhousie are hoping to inspire women to help change that disparity while recognizing the efforts and effect that their predecessors have had on Canada’s Ocean Playground.

Sarah Dobson, a student at the Schulich School of Law, and Grace Evans, a political science student at Dalhousie University, are the creators of On Their Shoulders: The Women Who Paved the Way in Nova Scotia Politics, a book that will chronicle the stories of the 50 women who’ve served as MLAs in Nova Scotia.

Their work is funded by grants from the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, a council formed in 1977 to educate and advise on women’s issues and concerns, and Equal Voice, an organization that advocates for the equal representation of women at all levels of government in Canada.

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READ MORE: Women still under-represented in Nova Scotia politics

Dobson and Evans told Global News Morning on Thursday they hope their efforts will help fill a gap in the province’s history and inspire more women to run for office in Nova Scotia.

“When I realized it was exactly 50, I thought it was kind of a good time to celebrate and remember those women and hear their stories,” Dobson said.

They hope that people, regardless of their gender, recognize the importance of having women take part in politics.

Global News Morning host Paul Brothers poses with Grace Evans and Sarah Dobson of On Their Shoulders: Women in Nova Scotia Politics on March 5, 2020.
Global News Morning host Paul Brothers poses with Grace Evans and Sarah Dobson of On Their Shoulders: Women in Nova Scotia Politics on March 5, 2020. Global News

They say they tracked their idols down and interview them about their lives and experiences in politics.

That included politicians who have previously held seats in Province House like Alexa McDonough, who was the first woman in Canada to lead a major recognized party, as well as current politicians like Patricia Arab, the minister of internal services and the youngest woman to be appointed to as a Nova Scotia cabinet minister.

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The goal is to share each woman’s personal journey to elected office and what inequalities they overcame. The book will also provide advice for women hoping to enter politics in the future.

“A lot of them said that it wasn’t a very friendly environment for them, but a lot of them have really great stories,” Evans said.

“It was very encouraging and kind of makes [us] realize that politics is an attainable goal for women.”
A look inside Canada’s oldest and smallest legislature on its 200th anniversary
A look inside Canada’s oldest and smallest legislature on its 200th anniversary

On Sunday, Dobson and Evans will be hosting an event on International Women’s Day to launch the Women in Politics Scholarship fund, a scholarship that will encourage and inspire female political science students at Dalhousie University.

They plan to share some of the stories they’ve learned while encouraging attendees to help support the fund.

The pair are looking to raise $10,000 through a crowdfunding campaign which will be supported by proceeds of their book when it goes on sale this fall.

Kelly Regan, Minister of the Status of Women, as well as current and former MLAs, are set to attend this weekend’s event at Shirreff Hall at Dalhousie University from 2 to 4 p.m.

They will also be accepting non-perishable food items for the Dalhousie Student Food Bank at the door.

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