Fifteen years ago, a group of young women from McGill University was invited to Ottawa to shadow Parliamentarians and attend Question Period in the House of Commons.
The goal? To offer women an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of life on Parliament Hill.
In 2016 the Women in House program is still going strong.
Last week, Senators Linda Frum and Joan Fraser greeted the latest group of participants arriving on the Hill for the program’s 15th anniversary. The two senators — who are both McGill alumnae — have been organizing Women in House receptions since 2012 in a bid to heighten female participation in Canadian political life.
Kavya Anchuri, who studies physiology, relished the opportunity to talk to women who may have experienced sexism in their political life.
Rosine Faucher, a law student, thinks gender parity is within reach but believes there is still work to be done.
“At least the debate is going on,” she said. “There is no more taboo. What disappoints me is that we don’t talk about all the other minorities that are also important.”
Senator Frum had encouraging words for the Women in House participants.
“There are no barriers to women,” she said. “The only barriers that exist are the ones they put up in their own minds. They should just plow ahead with any ambition they have — fearlessly,” she said.
Women in House is a McGill University program that each year offers female students a two-day trip to Ottawa to tour Parliament and spend time with Senators and Members of Parliament.