International Women’s Day is a day to recognize and give appreciation to the contribution and work of women in our society. Often the unsung heroes of our day to day lives, women’s work is highly undervalued and so it is incumbent on us to ensure that their voices and experiences are brought forward and empowered.
In politics, women continue to be under-represented and face discrimination. A recent global survey found that 50% of men and women think men make better political leaders than women. In Canada, among the larger parties, roughtly 30% of elected candidates were women, far below parity. We are proud as a federal political party to have 10 of our 17 candidates, nearly 60%, identify as women. Because our party is largely comprised of people who are also engaged in animal advocacy, a field of advocacy dominated by women historically and worldwide, it makes sense to have strong representation of women in our candidates.
Below are some thoughts on being a woman in politics today that some of our women candidates wanted to share for International Women’s Day.
Liz White – Party Leader
I am sitting in the Animal Protection Party office the day before International Women’s Day reflecting on the role of women who participate in the political discourse of our country. Of the 20 federally registered political parties, four are headed by women. And all four of those parties advocate for significant societal change: for women, for indigenous communities, for those facing poverty, for environmental protection and for many others.
The Animal Protection Party of Canada recognizes all the women who have worked tirelessly, advocating for both human and non-human animals, for those who are not afforded rights and protection in our society. Women such as Marianne Thieme, past Leader of Netherland’s Party for the Animals recognized that humans and animals are all connected and advocated for both. Marianne states, “After the liberation of slaves, women, giving rights to children, the next logical step was to consider the interests of animals seriously, to look beyond the interests of our own species.”
We celebrate women like Marianne who are pioneers in human rights, environmental rights and animal rights.
Victoria de Martigny
Today on International Women’s Day, when I think about my experience running as a candidate in the last federal election – and my hope to run in the next one as well – I am thankful for the women who came before me in the Suffragette movement and fought for equity and justice for women. Had it not been for their tireless and fearless efforts, I would not even have the right to vote much less be a candidate in a federal election.
But suffrage was about more than just the right to vote and hold public office, it was also about social reform and ending violence against women. 100 years after suffrage was granted to most women in Canada, we now face another appalling social injustice: Animal agriculture. Women were marginalized in the past because of our gender. Animals are discriminated against because of their species. It is just another form of oppression against individuals who are different. The Animal Protection Party of Canada is the only party who recognizes this injustice and who believes that animals deserve basic rights, the least of which is not to be exploited. In speaking up for the animals during the last federal election, I felt a kinship with the women who came before me, succeeded in their fight, and passed the torch to a new generation of political activists to fight for a group of individuals who have been oppressed for far too long. Today as I enjoy my right to freedom I hope that one day it will be the same for all nonhuman animals.
In my second electoral run for Parliament in 2019, four of the eight candidates in Toronto Danforth were women, including the two front-runners. That’s something for an animal rights advocate to be proud of, because traditionally, women have been at the core of animal rights movements, which included many women’s rights pioneers. The highlight of my campaign came at a community meeting when candidates were asked this question: “If you couldn’t vote for yourself, whom would you vote for?” Imagine my joy when Julia Dabrusin, the incumbent and sitting member of Parliament replied, “It would have to be Elizabeth, because of the animals. I’m a vegan in the making.”
Some of my thoughts and experiences in being involved in politics as a woman this past election was a little sad and scary but I was so proud to represent the animals and thankful for the wonderful support from everyone in the APPC!
I was sad when I was speaking at debates and all the male candidates were disrespecting me by rolling their eyes or make funny faces to the crowd about me when it was my turn to talk. It was also sad that nobody in the press reached out to me I’m not sure if that’s because I was a woman, or if it was because I was representing the animals, or both, but I felt super disrespected because they would interview all the other male candidates.
It was scary when I heard some of the things that other candidates and people were saying towards me and other APPC candidates ie : name calling and death threats.
I was proud because I knew that I was making a difference by showing people animal’s lives deserve recognition in our politics, just like our lives do.
I am forever grateful to all the APPC candidates and all the people involved in the APPC who supported me throughout the whole election and gave me awesome encouragement to keep me going.
Growing up I was taught at a very young age that I could achieve anything I wanted in life.
My parents had very traditional roles. My father was a lawyer and my mother stayed at home and raised my brother and I. As I grew into a young adult my parents encouraged me to follow whatever dreams i had because I was capable of anything.
My father particularly was a strong influence always encouraging me to be respectful and kind but also ambitious.
Ironically after I got married I decided I wanted to stay home and raise my two boys. A decision I have never regretted.
Running in the federal election at the age of 52 was an experience I will never forget. It was gruelling at times, disappointing at times, even frustrating at times. But most of all it gave me a great sense of accomplishment. It gave me a voice to speak for the most vulnerable which is truly what it was all about.
As a womxn, I’ve experienced violence and trauma due to the objectification of my body and personhood, but these experiences have fostered resiliency. Resilience to challenge what is expected of me.
Because I am a young womxn, many doubted my resolve and skill. But those who had enough of an open-mind to listen realized that my lived experiences and professional skills made me more than a “young, naive girl”. I am a strong advocate for all womxn, human and non-human alike, for our bodies and worth as beings are still judged too often by our reproductive organs.
We are all the same for how a mother cow who is artificially inseminated and has her babies taken away at birth is valued for her baby’s milk; for how a hen is valued for how often she can lay eggs until she can no more from injury; for how all female farmed animals are valued property or objects based on their reproductivity; for how human womxn are valued as objects for others to do with as they please. We are all the same because we are all experiencing oppression for simply being womxn.
We can not dismantle the sources of our troubles without being willing to acknowledge and account for all experiences of oppression in our advocacy. We will never truly be free of these chains without breaking every last one of them.
Note for readers: The spelling of “womxn” is generally used to be inclusive of non-binary and trans women who have historically been excluded from concepts of womanhood.
This year, like all other years on International Women’s Day, I will be honouring many iconic women worldwide.
Also, I will be honouring myself. During the 2019 federal elections, I decided to run for the animal protection party of Canada representing the Sudbury, ON. district. Not only was I the youngest candidate running, I was also representing all young woman in my district. During my candidacy, I took part in various debates, canvassing, and interviews. I felt very confident as a young woman in my opinions and beliefs. I received overwhelming support from various community members and fellow candidates. This experience has given me motivation to keep myself actively involved in my community and in the animal rights movement.
In Kitchener Centre I was the only female of six candidates and proudly represented the Animal Protection Party.
It was important that I was able to give a point of view from a female perspective, whilst being a voice for the animals, the Earth and those people who got the short end of the stick.
It was very encouraging that a lot of the other parties’ candidates chimed in with me and used some of the issues in debates I wasn’t allowed to partake in, as our party is not one of the big three. The whole process was very inspiring.
Are you a woman who would like to get political for animals, people, and the environment? Contact us and we will send you an application form. We are always seeking passionate individuals to join our team of outstanding candidates across Canada.
Animal Protection Party of Canada