Haliburton law student inspired at Queen’s Park
Jillian Hawley one of dozens at Daughters of the Vote delegations
|By Alex Coop - Staff Writer | March 2, 2017|
Haliburton’s Jillian Hawley, who is well on her way to becoming a human rights lawyer, still couldn’t help but underestimate herself when applying to represent the local riding at this year’s Daughters of the Vote delegations in Queen’s Park.
She wasn’t alone, she says, recalling that many of the young women from ridings across Ontario, with backgrounds ranging from engineering to environmental science, felt they were inadequate during the application process.
“I was baffled to hear this, because, to me, they are the epitome of what Daughters of the Vote delegates should be,” Hawley told The Highlander.
Those feelings of self-doubt were washed away during a day-long program Feb. 21, as the Ontario Legislative Assembly event brought the delegates together at Queen’s Park and gave them an opportunity to speak with their MPPs and discuss women’s roles in politics.
The Daughters of the Vote initiative was launched by Equal Voice, a national, bilingual, multi-partisan organization dedicated to electing more women to all levels of politics in Canada.
The event commemorated the 100th anniversary of women’s political participation in Canada and brought together 121 young female leaders ages 18-23.
“It’s so easy to count yourself out before you even try,” Hawley said, pointing to a conversation she had with Premier Kathleen Wynne.
“When I asked her what was one of the greatest challenges she faced throughout her career as a woman in politics, even she [Kathleen Wynne] confessed that it was doubt; doubting whether she was good enough, whether she had what it takes.”
Today, only 26 per cent of elected members in Canada’s national Parliament, the House of Commons, are women.
Canada is placed 50th in the international ranking of women in parliaments.
But all of Canada’s political parties are striving for better representation, says Laurie Scott, MPP for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, who met with Hawley in Toronto.
“Since I first started, the system has changed greatly and it’s not the barrier it was,” she said. “Today, all political parties want more women to get involved.”
Scott was impressed with the young delegates and their achievements, and says they were excited to learn about the ins and outs of Parliament.
“For many of them it was like trying to drink water from the fire hose,” she laughed.
Hawley’s dream is to work for the United Nations (UN) and advocate for human rights across the globe.
This summer, Hawley will have front row seats to the UN headquarters in Geneva, where she will also speak to delegates and watch the human rights council sitting.
The experience will be a part of a field research course she’s taking at the University of Ottawa.
The national event for Daughters of the Vote will take place March 6 in Ottawa, where every delegate from across Canada will take a seat in the House of Commons as well as participate in a series of other events throughout the week.
ALEX COOP is a reporter for The Highlander.