Roundtable: Learning from Global Perspectives on Gender Parity 

Beyond Numbers: Learning from Global Perspectives on Gender Parity

On Tuesday, February 27, 2024, in celebration of the Senate of Canada achieving gender parity last year, the Global Centre for Pluralism, in collaboration with Women Heads of Diplomatic Mission in Ottawa and Senator McPhedran, alongside Senators Ataullahjan, Boehm, Dasko, Gálvez, Housakos, Jaffer, Lankin, McCallum, Miville-Deschêne, Moodie, Omidvar, and Osler, hosted a discussion, delving into its significance and broader implications. This achievement marks a significant milestone for the Senate of Canada, which becomes the second country globally to do so, following Australia.

Both Secretary General of the Centre, Meredith Preston McGhie, and Ambassador Josefina Martinez, Chair of the Women Heads of Diplomatic Mission in Ottawa delivered brief opening remarks, highlighting that each society will have its own path and process towards gender parity and gender equality. Followed by an open discussion, facilitated by Senator McPhedran, that focused on addressing the multifaceted aspects of gender parity and the ongoing work required to advance inclusivity and equity in every aspect of societies.

The roundtable discussion featured insightful remarks from several Senators including Salma Ataullahjan, Peter Boehm, Donna Dasko, Leo Housakos, Mobina Jaffer, Francis Lankin, Mary Jane McCallum, and Rosemary Moodie. While celebrating the milestone of gender parity in the Senate, each speaker emphasized the importance of addressing additional factors, such as diversity and equity within the institution. They also underscored the need for gender parity not only in appointed positions but also in elected bodies like the House of Commons, highlighting the importance of representation at all levels of governance.

The Senators also explored reasons for pursuing parity and equity, delving into policy perspectives and highlighting the distinct leadership styles of women senators. They stressed the importance of women in elected positions who focus on issues affecting the most vulnerable and work ardently for their communities.

Adding an international perspective, Ambassador Scott Ryan shared valuable perspectives on Australia’s journey towards gender parity in its Senate.  He noted that while progress has been made, there is still work to be done to achieve parity in other areas of governance. His remarks emphasized the ongoing global effort required to promote gender equality and ensure women’s voices are heard in decision-making processes.

The event provided a unique opportunity to reflect on the diverse journeys each country takes towards pluralism, emphasizing the importance of learning from global experiences. As participants engaged in robust discussions, the event underscored the importance of going beyond numbers in the pursuit of gender parity and fostering more inclusive and equitable societies.