Quebec elects a record number of women, but will they be nominated to key cabinet roles?
Quebecers made history on Monday when they elected a record number of women to the province’s legislature, but political observers say more is needed to ensure equality between men and women in politics.
Of the 125 seats in the legislature, 58 are represented by women, including 41 of the 90 seats won by Avenir Québec, a coalition led by Premier François Legault. That number broke the previous record of 52 women elected during the 2018 general election.
Esther LaPointe, executive director of Groupe Fems, a Quebec organization that advocates for more women in politics, said the increase is good news. But to achieve real equality, she said, women need to be represented in the places where decisions are made, including in the premier cabinet and their political advisors.
“I believe that things will really change when, not only at the forefront, but in the background, we will also have more female political advisors, with their views, their experiences, their expertise,” she said. “We don’t want to replace people, we want to share decisions, discussions; we want to be at the table where decisions are made.”
Lapointe is also calling on Legault to appoint a gender-balanced cabinet and maintain equality in the next mandate. He said that women nominated in the cabinet should have important portfolios.
In 2018, Legault appointed 13 men and 13 women to his cabinet, but after three months, then-Environment Minister Mariechantel Chase resigned and was replaced by one man: Benot Charette. When the 2022 election was called, Legault’s cabinet consisted of 16 men and 11 women.
“We saw that there were women who were punished, while men who were not always exemplary in their files, remained in the cabinet,” she said. “I have a question about this: is there a double standard?”
Legault has said that 40 to 60 percent of his new cabinet will be women.
Pascal Navarro, author of Women and power: a matter of equalityA 2015 book, which explored how gender equality in politics can be achieved, said the results of the Quebec election are “excellent” – but added that women need more support in politics.
“It’s an excellent result in terms of numbers – you can’t argue with that. You have to recognize that parties have put in effort to recruit women candidates, so it’s an excellent thing.”
However, she added that it is not yet clear that with more women in politics, more women-related issues come on the agenda.
Prioritizing issues affecting women is important, Navarro said, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a major impact on female-led sectors such as health care and education.
Navarro said that while parties are doing a better job recruiting women candidates, they need to make sure they retain them once they are elected. Nearly a quarter of women elected in 2018 did not run after four years.
“It’s not just about finding women, you have to support them as well. And in that respect, I don’t get that Coalition Avenir Québec has done much to ensure its ability to retain women,” She said, using the example of former environment minister Chase.
Shortly after the 2018 election, Chase did not do well during some news shows. Legault initially supported him, but then said it was “mutually agreed” that he should step down.
“I feel [Chassé] He began to understand his file very well – he is an engineer, a businessman – but it was difficult to communicate with journalists,” Legault told reporters at the time.
Navarro suggested that Chase would have been treated differently if she had been a man.
“When there are so many other ministers making gaffes, why not support him? Lots of gaffe men remained in office, and there was a team around him, to help him, to support him, To equip them. I would expect the same from women.”
Daniele Pilate, professor of political science at the Université du Québec Montréal, said there are still barriers to women entering politics.
For example, labor shortages in daycare have contributed to a reduction in spaces, making it more challenging for women – especially those who do not live in the provincial capital and need to travel to the legislature. is required.
Also, female politicians are often targeted on social media more hatefully than men, Pilates said in an interview on Wednesday.
But despite an increase in the number of women in elected office in Quebec, power remains centralized in the head office, a growing phenomenon across the country. Whether the members are men or women, Pilates said, they all have to walk the party line.