As a political scientist, I’ve often talked in class about the value of diverse representation in government. How it can make a difference for little girls growing up, and indeed for grown women, to see women in leadership roles and know that they can do those jobs too. How having women’s voices in Cabinet, in caucus, and in the public service increases policymakers’ ability to understand and thus take into account the diverse experiences of women.
But that was all kind of abstract and intellectual until today, when I saw a Canadian Cabinet that was half women being sworn in for the first time. My own tears took me by surprise. I saw versions of myself in that line of Cabinet Ministers. I heard voices that sounded like mine as female Ministers were sworn in. And I suddenly felt better understood in important ways by my government than ever before.
Yes, there have been women in Cabinet before, and we’ve even briefly had a woman Prime Minister. But the fact of equal representative means that this Cabinet looks like Canadians, at least with respect to one critical dimension, gender.
I hope other historically-underrepresented Canadians saw or will soon see some version of themselves too.