Prior to 1921, men were the only members of the Canadian parliamentary system. With the first Canadian women being elected into the Canadian parliament in 1921, women have had the ability to participate and become elected into the House of Commons. Since then, Canadian women’s participation in the House of Commons has substantially increased from 1 female seat holder in 1921 to the present day 64 seats held by women. Although this increase is seemed as substantial, the debate about the underrepresentation of women in politics has been a central topic of debate by politicians, scholars and the general public in Canada. Although it is widely agreed that representation of women in the House of Commons needs to increase, there are two fundamentally different views regarding this underrepresentation; the explanatory perspective and the feminist perspective. The explanatory perspective argues that “political institutions should reflect the composition of civil society” , while the feminists perspective argues that, “since women offer unique perspectives, their exclusion from political power means that their needs, demands, and interests would currently not be echoed in the political arena.” However, through the assessment of the definition of democracy, and the evaluation of the feminist’s arguments and explanatory perspectives, the relatively low number of women elected to the House of Commons does not mean the Canadian political system is insufficiently democratic. In order to understand the underrepresentation of women in the Canadian political system, democracy must be defined. According to Rand Dyke, the definition of democracy is, “a political system characterized by popular sovereignty, political equality, political freedom, and majority rule.” Popular sovereignty and political equality entails that everyone eligible to vote has: a vote to participate in a final outcome, and an equal weighted vote. Political freedom involves equal opportunities and rights to all. Majority rule entails that when it comes to making a decision regarding differences in opinions, the larger number should win. Therefore, democracy suggests that there should be representation for all genders and race, everyone should enjoy the equal opportunities, and everyone has an equal say when it comes to choosing their representatives. Firstly, women hold approximately 20.8 percent of the House of Commons in Canada. Although this is an underrepresentation of the women population in Canada, it is not undemocratic. Based on the definition of democracy as defined above, it is argued, and has been proven through the election of women into the House of Commons, that women have equal opportunity to become a member in the House of Commons. Out of the Canadian population of eligible voters, women approximately make up more then 50 percent of that population. With women holding the majority of the votes in Canada, and an equal vote, it is puzzling that there are complaints regarding unfair representation. The fact that women have equal right to men shows that the Canadian political system is democratic. Perhaps the underrepresentation is not due to flaws in Canadian democracy regarding electing females to the House of Commons, but individual wants regarding representation. Women’s traditional role in society has been to stay home and take care of children as they are seen as nurturing creatures. The ways politicians have been portrayed through the media are ruthless and powerful people. The portrayal of traditional roles of women verse politicians may be part of the reason the general public does not elect more into the House of Commons. Perhaps if women involved in politics became more involved with the media, to prove their authoritativeness, the general population would be more inclined to elect strong-willed, assertive women into the House of Commons. Secondly, feminists have argued that females vying for political nomination face challenges finding...
Bibliography: Dyck, Rand. Canadian Politics: Critical Approaches. 4th ed. Scarborough: Nelson, 2004.
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