A record 76 women now sit in the House of Commons, the largest contingent since females were given the right, in 1920, to run as candidates in federal elections.
However, while women have come a long way in Canada and their representation in elected office is on the rise, Liberal Member of Parliament Judy Sgro predicts they could have a much more significant impact on Canada’s political landscape if their presence in Ottawa is doubled.
There are 308 members in the House of Commons, but that number will increase to 338 after the next elections in 2015.
“I think when it gets to 50 per cent, then you will get to see the real good policies that really and truly are going to reflect well and make our country better,” Sgro suggested at the Jamaican Canadian Association’s (JCA) 12th International Women’s Day celebration.
The theme of this year’s “Women Recognizing Women” event was Connecting Girls: Inspiring Futures.
The York West federal representative since 1999, Sgro said while women have come a long way, their journey is far from over.
“Our young women today think everything is good and it was always this way,” said Sgro, a former Citizenship and Immigration minister. “We have to remind them it wasn’t that long ago we actually got the right to vote. The roadblocks are still there. It doesn’t matter which job you are in because there is always a difference between men and women. I think it’s that difference that makes us stronger and better for whom we are because without compassion and caring women, I think we would have a very sad society.”
Consul General George Ramocan and his wife Dr. Lola Ramocan addressed the gathering at the celebration which was organized by the JCA’s Women’s Committee, established in 1975.
Jamaica’s top diplomat in the city suggested that an investment in women is an investment in a nation while his spouse – an early childhood development specialist – reminded girls and young women to always believe they can achieve anything.
“Don’t let it be said that you did not try,” said Ramocan. “I say to you on this International Women’s Day event that anything that is worth having is worth fighting for…Just let your stumbling blocks be stepping stones.”
In the keynote address, Jamaican-born Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) Toronto president, Dr. Rosemary Moodie, spoke of the organization’s mandate of helping women and girls.
“They come to the YWCA to change their lives and most of them we work with are dealing with consequences of poverty, violence and sexism,” said Moodie who is a paediatrician and neonatologist at The Hospital for Sick Children. “Despite these challenges that are significant, their will to overcome is strong.
“Our job at the YWCA is to ensure that the female sex has the support and resources they need to build those bright and inspiring futures.”
The YWCA Toronto recently opened its new $80 million state-of-the-art Elm Centre that has three residential towers that will provide permanent affordable housing to a diverse community, including low-income women with mental health and addiction issues and those facing abuse.
Awards were presented to JCA volunteers Andrea Crooks, Trisha Francis, Janet Samms and Barbara Phillips.
Crooks migrated to Canada in 1982 and graduated from Bathurst Heights Secondary School; Francis is a graduate of George Brown Culinary Arts program and a food and beverage supervisor at Air Canada Centre, and Samms is the JCA’s assistant secretary and a City of Toronto caseworker.
Grenadian-born Phillips represented her country and Ontario at netball as a goal attack and has been a JCA volunteer for the past six years.
A special presentation was made to Sgro who is a long time JCA supporter.
By RON FANFAIR