Founding Executive Director, Carleton University Centre for Women in Politics and Public Leadership
Clare Beckton is Executive director of the Carleton University Centre for Women in Politics and Public Leadership and a former senior executive in the Canadian government. She is also the author of Own It - Your Success, Your Future, Your Life.
Reading and watching the stories arising around International Women's Week, I was struck by the divisiveness around the meaning of feminism. Emma Watson, who is a passionate advocate for feminism, was criticized for her Vanity Fair poses. Articles regularly question whether Justin Trudeau is a feminist or a hypocrite depending on his actions on a particular day. Sophie Gregoire Trudeau is currently being criticized for suggesting that women thank the men in their lives and hold their hands on International Women's Day. Be bold - stand up and end this harmful debate around feminism.
A new year is always a time to reflect and think about the future. This is a special new year. As Canadians, we are fortunate to celebrate our 150 anniversary. In so many ways we are a young country built by immigrants and the existing indigenous populations.
Women continue to fear for their safety not only on campuses but on streets, in parks and on trails. I have spoken to a number of women who say they no longer jog alone on wooded trails. They also face harassment and implicit bias in the workplace which affects their ability to be effective and to advance in those workplaces. And now Trump has brought that same harassment onto a global political stage.
More than ever we need to have multi-generational leadership in our governments, public services and in the non- profit and for- profit sectors. Each of the generations has something to offer and learn from each other. We are in an interesting place in our history where information is widely accessible through the Internet and all of its data sources.
Women Entrepreneurs are ambitious and want to grow their businesses according to a new study released on Tuesday. Current and past Literature and reports have resulted in a general assumption that women entrepreneurs are risk averse, thereby impacting their ability to obtain necessary capital for startup and growth.
Some time ago I began to question this whole idea of work-life balance. I asked why do we frame the debate as if work and life are not one and the same? Do we not think work is part of the continuum that makes up our life? For me, anyway, and I suspect many others, work is an essential part of life and how we contribute to our society.
While the cabinet is now 50 -50, we are still a far cry from achieving equality in Canada. Numbers alone are not the complete solution to the complex challenge of achieving equality. We can see this by looking at quotas which are unable to achieve their stated goals.
Quite frankly I would rather have our government express ambitious goals that will stretch their capability than easily met goals. Is this not the reason they were elected? Similarly for Canadians as a whole. Why should we not have audacious and ambitious goals in our lives that challenge us every day and give us reason to get out of bed every morning fully alive and ready to do our best toward meeting the goals?
Governance is difficult at the best of times because public policy is complex and often entails more than one option and the consideration of a multiplicity of perspectives. Trial and error and mistakes are often necessary for success.
Canada's public service has a proud history and has been recognized as world leader in terms of impartiality and offering great advice to ministers. Whichever party forms the next government, it is imperative that they take accountability seriously and create an environment of trust with the public service. Canada needs a creative, healthy and trusted public service and a government that holds themselves accountable.
To debate or not to debate -- that is the question? Election fever has begun in Canada well before the election call. So much for the concept of a six-week election blitz. One of the issues floating through all of the talk is a push for a leaders' debate on women's issues similar to the televised one held on August 15, 1984. In 1984 few could imagine that a need would exist for another debate in 2015. Surely all of the issues facing women in Canada would be resolved by then! Sadly this is not the case. Canada, once a leader respecting advancement of women has slipped behind other countries.
Simply because you disagree with someone's opinion does not make the person wrong or a moron or any other name flung around out there. In fact the personal attack on an individual commentator or subject of a news story reflects badly on the person doing it because it suggests that they do not have an evidentiary basis for offering an alternate opinion. If you disagree, state clearly why you disagree and the evidence for it. The same goes for our politicians. It is harder to advocate for civility when we often see anything but civility being displayed by our elected representatives and leaders in this country.
It is time for a modern version of wonder woman who does not have to carry a gun but can achieve results through feminine strengths. She can be tough without guns and violence because she knows who she is and what she wants to do in the world. She may chose to have a partner but is not dependent upon a man to achieve her goals.
As the Mike Duffy trial begins, there is plenty of blame to go around. Who is to blame -- the Senate and its lack of rules, the Prime Minister, staff or any of the other players in the allegations of fraud and misuse of funds? Surely Mike Duffy played no part whatsoever in this mess. He is just the "victim." After all, what accountability can those using public money have to Canadians to manage it well? In the U.S. we see Republicans blaming the president even when they block his initiatives. Not uncommon occurrences.
Premier Wynne, in Ontario, announced new measures recently to end sexual violence and harassment, using strong words to describe the purpose as being to end "the culture of misogyny" which is "deep-rooted in society." Misogyny goes beyond exercise of power and control to hatred of women and girls.
Over the years that I spent in various roles, I saw evidence of the impact in changing culture. Transformation of human resource policies made the path for women's advancement less fraught with pitfalls and unconscious bias. Images of women's role and abilities became more positive. I remember being told that I was very "ambitious" as if it was something to be ashamed of as a woman.
It's time to challenge the label that women are risk averse. Why do we assume that risk taking as defined by male approaches is always a positive approach in business or anywhere else for that matter? It is time that we really looked at the whole question of how women see risk and the impact of the differing perspectives and stop simply judging them against male standards.
As 2015 begins, it is a good time to reflect on the past year and look to the new year. For a period of years, women's equality seemed relegated to a dusty corner as many argued we had attained full equality in Canada. How wrong these pundits were in announcing a premature victory!
"Boys will be boys" and "it's just guy talk" are expressions that we need to erase from our vocabulary as a justification for some men's blatantly inappropriate behaviour toward women. This week, we saw disturbing events at Dalhousie University's Dental School involving comments of a sexual nature and those suggesting sexual violence against women, posted on a social media site. Response to the incident ranges from condemnation to commentators justifying the action of the male students on the basis that this was "just guy talk."