In a recent letter in the Record (The Valley’s hospital doesn’t need a feminist PM), Julian White wrote that because his wife was attended by a female doctor and a female anesthesiologist when she gave birth, there is no longer any need for our prime minister to focus on feminism.
He said “it is individual women who are carving the way for equality and fairness.” I’d say that’s not entirely true.
If it weren’t for the tireless work of feminists over the last 100 years, those women would probably not be in those positions. When Emily Stowe, one of Canada’s first female doctors, tried to study medicine at the University of Toronto in 1865, its vice-president told her, ‘The doors of the University are not open to women and I trust they never will be.’
In 1924, the Federation of Medical Women in Canada was founded to encourage women to study medicine and to pressure medical schools to accept more women. But by 1970, only seven per cent of physicians in Canada were women, and it took until 1995 before the numbers of women and men in Canadian medical schools became roughly equal. There is still no Canadian province that has as many female doctors as male doctors, and there is still a pay gap between women and men practising medicine.
Canadian women are under-represented in many professions. Only seven of the 249 companies listed on the main index of the Toronto Stock Exchange are run by women, and Canada has the ninth highest gender pay gap out of a list of 43 OECE countries.
So I’d say that there is still a lot to be accomplished, and we need a prime minister who is a strong advocate for women’s equality, because it’s not something that individual women are necessarily going to be able to accomplish on their own.