YWCA Hamilton: Voices

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Butter and Guns?

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A recent Globe and Mail blog post takes note of the gender divide during Question Period. The article suggests that the two “big” stories of the fall- the H1N1 outbreak and the recent Afghan prisoner torture allegations have been have divided Parliament along gender lines. When asking about H1N1, the author notes that female MPs asked the female Health Minister but when the discussion turned to war, torture and terrorism, the female MPs were far more likely to sit quietly in their seats.

As stated by Taber:

 As a leading expert on women in politics, the University of Toronto’s Sylvia Bashevkin says this is not uncommon – women traditionally deal with the butter issues (social spending, health and the arts) and men with the gun issues.

Sylvia Bashevkin, the author of the excellent book Women, Power, Politics: The Hidden Story of Canada’s Unfinished Democracy , suggests that “… cabinet positions women historically were offered were portfolios that were seen as a logical extensional of a traditional maternal role: health, education, welfare, culture”.

Finance is another portfolio that appears to be biased. The Finance Minister is a male and so are all of his Critics.

Is this ok?

Does this even matter?

Blog author Jane Taber suggests it does matter.

it’s important for young people of both genders to see women operating in all aspects of public policy. It is equally important to see male politicians in non-traditional roles… Breaking gender stereotypes and having male and female MPs in non-traditional roles can pack more punch, argues Bashevkin: It makes public policy seem like it’s about all of us and not just some narrow spectrum either of only women who care about social policy or men who are equipped to know about whether it’s the economy or foreign affairs or defence…I think social policy, when voiced by a man, and defence or economic or foreign policy, when voiced by a woman, because it’s sort of breaking with stereotype, can often be more compelling, more resonant and more remembered.

Be sure to read the whole article HERE.

Cross-posted at Elect More Women

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