News / Toronto

Daughters of the Vote summit aims to propel more women into Canadian politics

Equal Voice to invite one young woman from each federal electoral riding to Ottawa next year

Daryna Kutsyna is the president of Equal Voice UofT chapter, and is hoping to be part of next year's Daughters Of The Vote summit.

Liz Beddall/ Metro

Daryna Kutsyna is the president of Equal Voice UofT chapter, and is hoping to be part of next year's Daughters Of The Vote summit.

At just 20 years old, Daryna Kutsyna knows there are many obstacles for female political participation.

“Probably the biggest barrier for young women is the lack of support for their political ambitions,” said the fourth year political science and international relations student at the University of Toronto.

“It leads to many young women not seeing themselves as qualified to hold elected positions. That’s why we are nowhere near gender parity in politics.”

Kutsyna’s ambition is to change the trend. She’s vying for one of the 338 spots available nationwide to participate in next year’s Daughters Of The Vote summit. It’s a leadership program designed to change the face of politics by increasing young women’s participation.

The initiative was developed by Equal Voice, a national organization dedicated to promoting the election of more women into Canada’s legislature.

The group says women representation in the House of Commons has “crawled up” by only between 1-3 per cent over the past five elections. As the country marks 100 years since women gained the right to vote, women hold only about 26 per cent of seats in the House of Commons.

“That is totally unacceptable in 2016,” said Nancy Peckford, executive director of Equal Voice, who also noted only about 18 per cent of all mayors across the country are female.

“We have to encourage more young women to see themselves in the political life of our country.”

The summit will serve as a networking opportunity for young women and a place to share ideas to build the country’s political future, she said. Participants will be expected to return back to their communities and help spread the political fever into younger generations, she said.

“Women can’t just stay at the community level anymore,” she said. “There has to be more networks allowing women to excel in everything, including politics.”

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