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Equality Unplugged: How Women "Really" Talk About Issues

11/12/2013 05:40 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

On October 7, a fundraising event was held by the Liberal Party. By now most everyone has seen the image and the event page for "Justin Unplugged".

To the Liberal organizers, the event was an opportunity for women to "really" get to know the leader of the Liberal Party. Did we ever. Besides the bizarre admiration for dictatorships and a profound lack of knowledge of political systems in Canada, we got a sense of how the leader of the Liberal Party engages Canadian women.

We got to know him as someone who thinks that when women talk politics, they talk "virtues" and "heroes". My reaction? It's 2013. And I have no idea where he gets this from. Judging from #AskJustin, I'm not the only one with questions.

When women engage me in my community, in Ottawa or across the country, they talk to me about the economy, about health care, about child care, about housing, about the environment. Simply put, all issues are "women's issues".

But as Status of Women critic, I also ask questions about challenges specifically facing women. Lack of representation of women in the political arena is an issue that hits close to home, and no amount of small talk will adequately address the challenges women face in politics.

Just two weeks ago I hosted a national forum, free to attend: The Women's Forum des femmes. The forum focused on gender inequality and how young women are fighting for equality, in their communities and across the country. The women that spoke shared strong and inspiring messages. Young women are leading the way, from the rise of Idle No More, to their work in the labour movement, their activism in the trans rights movement, the disability rights movement, and in the fight for reproductive justice.

During the forum, many issues were raised because all issues are women's issues, and because women deserve to be treated with seriousness, their experiences and struggle deserve more than pandering market techniques. Women -- and men -- can count on New Democrats to take women seriously.

Now that "Ladies Night" with the Liberal Leader is over, I encourage women in Toronto to head out on the doorsteps with NDP candidate Linda McQuaig, and help elect a woman from a party that will promote women, not demean them.

Trudeau Mocked With #AskJustin