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Dalhousie establishes scholarship for women interested in politics

Click to play video: 'Dal students launch a scholarship fund to inspire female Poli Sci students' Dal students launch a scholarship fund to inspire female Poli Sci students
WATCH (March 5, 2020): 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. – Mar 5, 2020

Dalhousie University has established a scholarship aimed at helping the female politicians of the future.

The Women in Politics Scholarship fund is the brainchild of Sarah Dobson, a graduate of the school’s political science program and law school, and Grace Evans, who is finishing her final year as a political science student.

When we first started, I don’t think either of us really realized how big of an undertaking it was,” Evans said in a phone interview with Global News on Sunday.

“I’m really excited … that we’re able to help women starting this year at Dalhousie.”

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

The scholarship is aimed at supporting women-identifying students in the field of political science by encouraging and supporting their career aspirations.

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Two scholarships of $1,000 will be awarded annually and the first recipients will be chosen in the upcoming spring/summer term.

Part of the pair’s efforts to support the fund is through the creation and publication of On Their Shoulders: The Women Who Paved the Way in Nova Scotia Politics, a book examining the role of women in Nova Scotia politics.

Since Confederation and through 40 elections, more than 750 men have been elected to the legislature in Nova Scotia.  Only 51 women have been elected in that same time period.

The book chronicles the stories of all the women who’ve served as MLAs in Nova Scotia — there were only 50 when they wrote the book.

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Nova Scotia’s female politicians speak out after incident of vulgar harassment – Oct 25, 2019

Kendra Coombes’ win in the Cape Breton Centre byelection earlier this year has since pushed that figure up to 51.

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Although the publication of the book has been delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, both women say the establishment of the scholarship is something they’re proud of.

“To me, this is the most important part, especially the most important part to get finalized this year and quickly,” said Dobson on Sunday.

“The book will come next and the proceeds from the book will make the scholarship more sustainable so it will be able to last for longer.”

Dobson said it’s especially important that the scholarship was made available this year.

She said making sure that students can afford to attend class despite the complications of COVID-19 and the financial effects of the pandemic were important for both of them.

Read more: Women still under-represented in Nova Scotia politics: ‘We need those voices’

As for what comes next for the women behind the scholarship? Dobson has begun her career at Halifax-based law firm Cox & Palmer while Evans is wrapping up the final year of her degree.

“One of the things I think that also propelled my interest in doing this project is I do work for many of the local MLAs … and many of those that I’ve worked for are female members and female cabinet members,” Evans said.

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“So I’d like to continue doing that. It’s definitely within my field of interest.”

In order to be eligible for the scholarship individuals must:

  • Identify as a woman
  • Demonstrate their academic capability
  • Demonstrate a commitment to feminist and gender issues
  • Submit a 250-word biographical statement and resume.

Applications are due May 1 of each year.

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