A Moment for Women’s History Month
As we near the end of Women’s History Month it is important to look back and acknowledge the contributions that women have made to politics in Newfoundland and Labrador and in Canada.
WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE IN NLThe women’s suffrage movement took in the 1890’s in Newfoundland and Labrador. It took decades of advocating for voting rights before women were given the right to vote on April 13, 1925. However, and similar to many victories like this, it came with conditions. One of the conditions related to voting age. Women would not be allowed to vote until the age of 25. Their male counterparts were allowed to vote if they were 21 years of age. As could be expected, this decision led advocates to speak their displeasure.
The laws that so materially affect [our] lives are bound to be haphazard and one-sided without the aid of the counsel of responsible women. – Armine Nutting Gosling, Founder of the Ladies Reading Room and Current Events Club.
WOMEN’S ENGAGEMENT IN NL POLITICSThe 1928 election was the first time women would be allowed to flex their newly formed democratic muscles. In that election over 90 percent of women in Newfoundland voted. However, no woman ran for office.
After their years of tireless efforts, women were finally given their proper seat at the table. In 1930 Lady Helena Squires, wife of Prime Minister Sir Richard Squires, won a by-election in Lewisporte. Then passed 49 years without female representation in the House of Assembly. This changed in 1979 with the election of two female candidates. In the 2015 election 10 women were elected to the House of Assembly; a significant improvement from 1979.
WOMEN AND THE LIBERAL PARTY
In 2015, the Liberal Party of NL was excited to welcome seven women to our caucus. Three of these women went on to cabinet portfolios. The Liberal Party recognizes the importance of women’s involvement in politics, and will continue to ensure the barriers women face in politics are reduced. In Newfoundland and Labrador, we’re also proud that the Liberals have elected more female candidates than any other party. We will continue to support women in achieving their political goals.In 2015, Prime Minister Trudeau announced his cabinet would be a gender-equal cabinet. A noted feminist, the Prime Minister understood the importance of this move as it would send a message to all Canadians showing that men and women have an equal voice in the office of the Prime Minister. Former MP Judy Foote was in his cabinet before retiring and she embodies the type of strong women Newfoundland and Labrador has sent to represent our interests in Ottawa. The federal contingent of Newfoundland MP’s currently feature Yvonne Jones as MP for Labrador and Gudie Hutchings as MP for Long Range Mountains.
CELEBRATING OUR WOMEN AND GIRLS
Women’s history month is a great chance to celebrate the accomplishments of our female friends, colleagues, and family members. We encourage you to take some time before October ends to thank the women who are making a difference in the lives of others, and since we are a political party, to also thank those women who have dedicated themselves to serving the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. You may also take some time to inspire a young girl. A kind or motivational word today might inspire a future female political leader of tomorrow.