Saskatchewan recognizes female political leaders on International Women’s Day

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Saskatchewan recognizes female political leaders on International Women’s Day
WATCH: Global Regina asked residents to reflect and recognize who the most influential women are in their lives on Tuesday. International Women's Day takes place on Wednesday to celebrate, recognize and bring awareness to gender equality, reproductive rights and violence against women. – Mar 8, 2023

As Saskatchewan celebrates International Women’s Day and the advances that have occurred for women in the province, there is still room to grow according to some political leaders.

Saskatoon University MLA Jennifer Bowes says it hasn’t always been easy running for office in a space traditionally dominated by males.

“One example from the campaign trail – I got asked a lot about my marital status. I got asked if I was old enough to be running for politics,” Bowes said. “Things about whether or not I was going to have kids and whether that would interfere with me being an effective politician.”

Despite the challenges, across Saskatchewan, many women have become heavily involved in politics. Notably, the current leader of the official opposition – the Sask. NDP – is Carla Beck. And in Regina, Sandra Masters was elected as the city’s first female mayor in 2020.

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For Bowes however, the growth is hard to see at times with a political landscape still predominantly male.

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“There certainly are sexist behaviours that exist. In this building it’s a bit of a man’s world still,” Bowes said.

While the gender gap appears at the provincial level, there appears to be some balance at the municipal level.

Out of the 61 members of the Saskatchewan legislature, only 19 are women while 42 are men. In Regina, among the elected city councilors six are male and five are female. In Saskatoon, of the 10 city councilors, five are women marking a 50 per cent mix of male and female representatives.

For Bronwyn Eyre, a Saskatoon MLA, the numbers are a sign things are improving.

“Our society is extremely lucky to have the amazing women participating at all the levels that we do,” Eyre said. “There are still challenges of course with sexism but being able to access every possibility out there, there has been enormous progress and we are lucky to be in the (western world).”

To bridge the gap on equality, Eyre believes more women should be encouraged to participate in politics.

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“I have always believed that everything is open to women, if they want to go into politics they can go into politics,” she said.

For Bowes, a focus on mentorship is an important step moving forward.

“We are looking to include more mentorship for seasoned female former politicians, current politicians or senior campaign operatives to pair them with women who are looking to run to make sure they have got their guidance and support,” Bowes explained.

International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on March 8.

Click to play video: 'International Women’s Day focuses on embracing equity'
International Women’s Day focuses on embracing equity

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