Women who rule: Female politicians gather in Quebec City for leadership conference
In a first at the National Assembly, women from over ten French-speaking countries gathered in Quebec City for the week to take part in a leadership event for female politicians.
“We have to be together and share our realities, among us here in Quebec but also with women on the international level,” said Quebec Liberal MNA Maryse Gaudreault
There are workshops covering everything from time management to social media.
Gaudreault, who is the president of the Women's Circle of the National Assembly, said it's also about empowerment.
“We opened this week with self-esteem. You know, even if you are a member of a parliament you can have challenges with self-esteem,” she said. “Because it's a new position with new obstacles and you have to be really strong.”
Suzi Barbosa, from Guinea-Bissau in West Africa, was one of the attendees.
“One of the reasons I came into politics in my country is really because I realized women didn't have a voice,” she said. “I am still a young woman in parliament - and I cannot say I'm young because I'm already more than 40. So back in my country, they still consider me a young politician, because the idea there is that you shouldn't come into politics before you are 50, even 60.”
In some of the countries from which the female politicians hail, pressure remains to stay at home to take care of the family.
When a woman wants to run for office, “it becomes problematic for her” said participant Marie-Rose Ramee, a parliamentarian from Burkina Faso. Ramee said a woman in politics has a lot of negotiating to do: with her husband, with her children, with the family hierarchy and society.
With the event of International Women's Day this week, the push for gender parity in politics is once again in the spotlight.
“On the 8th of March, we had this kind of discussion everywhere. We need more women,” said Conservative MP Sylvie Boucher.
The issue seems to be global.
“We thought parity was only an issue in Africa, but we've realized the problem is the same in North America,” said Ramee.