Sure. Thank you very much for that, Stephanie.
I really want to say that as women, we are not acculturated in this notion that running is for us and that running and winning are for us. It's something we need to do better, as a society and as governments, to make sure we articulate that and change the culture, the norm that politics is a male domain or that politics, being a public sphere, is only for a certain group. We really need to break that down, demystify it, and allow more conversation to be developed around it.
If we can encourage that piece, we'll see more individuals, diverse women from many backgrounds, more urban/rural candidates from different places taking on that role and stepping forward, as I have.
I want to see more Canadian women and girls believing they can. I personally do, and I know that for years that option never occurred, but it occurred once I had supports in my community saying “You're a leader. You're involved in so many ways. You inspire. I see the passion and the love you have for your community.”
Oftentimes we talk about leaders being in many ways shifty politicians. I don't like that. There are lots of great people who are in roles of leadership who also acknowledge that they can collaborate and are capable of going across the board and bridging gaps. Those skill sets are fundamentally important in true leadership.
Making sure the awareness piece is out there is one way to break down that barrier for women initially, and then it's to create a wider conversation about engagement.
Clergy in my community were very supportive of giving me opportunities to develop my speaking capacity, so perhaps collaborating with different clubs and organizations to engage women is another way, and it's usually cost-effective. These organizations are engaged in their communities, and they reach out to a wider group of young people, whether through Scouts or through leadership training, making sure those are available as well.
Women and girls need to hear they inherently have real value as people, and that value can then be added into different contexts and different phases throughout their seasons of life.
I remember going into the municipal office. I had a four-month-old baby and two six-year-olds at home, and I said, “But we're doing it”, and that was just it. I had a great partner who is a physician, but he understood the context of my capacity to add to my community, and he said, “I'm with you, babe”, so thank you to my husband for being a real trouper. I know that in many other contexts women have partners who are supporting them too, so we have to give credit to the men and women who support their partners who are taking this leap.
Thank you very much.