Female politicians from Africa find common ground with Canadian counterparts

Female political leaders from more than ten French-speaking countries gathered in the Quebec National Assembly for a week-long leadership conference covering everything from social media to gender-based challenges.

The International Women’s Day event featured parliamentarians from Ottawa and Quebec, as well as politicians from African nations including Niger and Burkina Faso. The women say that they found many things in common.

“One of the reasons I went into politics in my country is really is because I realized that women don’t have a voice,” Suzie Barbosa of the National People’s Assembly in Guinea-Bissau told CTV News.

“We had the idea of Canada being such a developed country that women in politics didn’t have any barriers,” Barbosa added. “What we realized in the end (is) all women have barriers in politics.”

Quebec Liberal MNA Maryse Gaudreault said that although the Canadian and Africa leaders have much in common, there are also differences. She said some Africans wake up to constituents in their backyards waiting for them.

Women currently hold 36 out of the 125 seats in Quebec’s National Assembly. That one-quarter ratio is about the same as the House of Commons in Ottawa.

It’s more than most African parliaments, but the fact Canadian members openly spoke of ongoing struggles with sexism and work-life balance came as a surprise to some of the visiting Africans.

“We thought equality was an African struggle,” said one of the overseas politicians. “Women have to negotiate with their husbands before getting into politics. But we see there are still issues in North America too.”

With a report from CTV’s Genevieve Beauchemin

Go to Source