Women in House: A Feel-Good Story about Youth and Politics

by | November 23, 2011
filed under Can-Con, Feminism, Politics

by E. Cain

If I may, I would like to take this opportunity to gush about a wonderful program at McGill University called Women in House.

This nonpartisan, student-led initiative was started in 2001 to promote women’s representation in politics and give female students the unique opportunity to gain an inside look into the lives of female politicians in government.

It offers a two-day, fully-subsidized trip to Ottawa, during which participants take a tour of Parliament, hear individual speakers and panel discussions, and shadow a female MP or Senator. For those involved, it’s truly a memorable experience.

This year’s program took place in November, and there was much to celebrate in the lead up. For starters, McGill now has a female president of its students’ society, Maggie Knight – a rare occurrence as there have been only 10 female presidents in over 100 years.  In addition, who can forget the four McGill students elected to Parliament last May, two of which are Women in House alumni – Mylène Freeman and Charmaine Borg.

This year’s program also had an unprecedented 50 young women participate (selected from a pool of 150 applicants) – that’s up from 14 participants during the first trip in 2001. These young women definitely created a buzz on Parliament Hill with their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn about women in Canadian politics.

On Twitter, there were supportive tweets from Nycole Turmel, Elizabeth May, Carolyn Bennett, Susan Delacourt, Equal Voice and many others. Conservative MP Susan Truppe took her student shadow on CTV’s Power Play to promote the program. And NDP MP Mylène Freeman delivered a rousing statement in Parliament, welcoming participants to the House and reflecting on her own experiences with the program.

As a former participant and coordinator of Women in House – I am beyond thrilled to watch this program continue to grow and attract attention. Congrats to this years’ group – onwards and upwards ladies!

-E. Cain

For a more detailed look, Chi Nguyen, co-founder of Women in House wrote her dissertation on the program. Check it out here.

In other exciting news, McGill Women in House is looking to expand the program. If you are interested in starting a chapter in your university, you can find out more information here.

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