By Jasmine Ramze Rezaee
The world has changed dramatically since the 2019 federal election. A global pandemic has exposed many inequities, including the extent our society depends on the labour of racialized women. It is more important than ever to get involved with Canada’s 44th election campaign.
Regardless of whether you can vote there are numerous ways your voice is of critical importance.
There are many issues at stake deserving of our collective attention – gender equity, protecting our social safety net, and advancing an inclusive recovery against the backdrop of contracting markets and protracted deficits.
I am thinking of deeply affordable housing, particularly for Indigenous women and survivors of gender-based violence; livable incomes for all, regardless of the ability to engage in paid work; and showing up for women who have shouldered the burden of this virus through a national child care system, employment insurance reform and fairer working conditions.
Full immigration status for migrant farm and domestic workers is another issue that has received little attention. Actual progress on the Calls for Justice by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, radical action on the climate crisis and, dare I say it, even electoral reform is needed.
Politics is about choice. And, a good choice is more likely with the right leaders.
On September 20, I hope Canadians will cast their ballots for gender equity. I hope they will share their thoughts with loved ones, perhaps even strangers, and encourage others to get involved.
YWCA Toronto has recently launched #YourVoiceMatters, complete with a petition and various concrete ways for people to get involved. Other campaigns that might be helpful include Up for Debate, Operation Black Vote Canada, The Canadian Vote Coalition, #Vote4GenderEquity, Vote for Housing, Status for All, and Fair Vote Canada.
The best antidote to apathy is engagement. To quote Zanana Akande, Ontario’s first Black cabinet minister, “What’s in it for us?”
This is the only way our democracy can function, as flawed and battered as it may be. Even as we try to throw off the shackles of our colonial past and grapple with present-day inequities, we have to believe a better tomorrow is possible. We must remain engaged.
Do not discount the importance of your voice in this federal election. There is much at stake. This is about the future of our communities and generations. Now, more than ever, it is important we connect with one another and join forces with others to amplify the issues that matter to your community. Find a candidate that understands your concerns. Consider canvassing for them. Educate yourself on party platforms. Debate and write. Talk to community members about the issues at stake, even if you cannot vote.
Jasmine Ramze Rezaee is director of advocacy and communications for YWCA Toronto.