Women, we need you to run — and get elected

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By Roderick Benns

Roderick Benns is the publisher of The Advocate. An award-winning author and journalist who grew up in Lindsay, he has written several books including Basic Income: How a Canadian Movement Could Change the World.

Women and men think differently. Science has proven this; it is beyond the realm of opinion.

Because women think differently we have a glorious opportunity as a society — we can send more women to parliament, to our legislatures, and to our council chambers. But why not just send “the best” person, you may ask?

Roderick Benns, publisher.

By and large, men have a few gender-specific policy interests. Most men love to emphasize the economy. They enjoy thinking about debt and GDP, big business and natural resources. They are competitive and take more risks under pressure — all of this borne out by research.

Women tend to have different policy priorities. Research shows that whether a legislator is male or female has a clear impact on what they focus on, according to research conducted by the National Democratic Institute in 100 countries.

Women emphasize quality of life issues more than men. They tend to collaborate better and work across party lines. They are generally more responsive to constituent concerns. They seek peace. They encourage citizen engagement. They prioritize health and education. In other words, they are much more likely to be advocates for our social health and community well-being.

Here in Kawartha Lakes we have two women councillors out of eight: Tracy Richardson and Katherine Seymour-Fagan. I’d like to see more women run to join them next time around. At the provincial level we have a female MPP in Laurie Scott, although one could argue that since her father served in Ottawa as an MP there may have been some inherent motivation in her case to run. We live in a riding that has yet to send its first female MP to Ottawa.

But why aren’t more women running for office? It’s complicated, but part of it is that from an early age boys are much more likely to have been socialized by their parents to consider a political career, according to one study, and that includes exposure to more political information and discussion.

Unfortunately, women in politics also face more abuse on social media than their male counterparts – insults that are often personally demeaning, sexualized, and threatening.

As well, and often due to social influences, women still take on the primary responsibility for labour and childcare in the home, which leaves little time for a political career.

The most successful workplaces have the greatest diversity — people of various ages, genders, ethnic backgrounds and life experiences coming together with their unique perspectives. So, women of Kawartha Lakes, give some thought to the next election. For the good of society, we need more of you to run.

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