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TMU Women in the House program carves a new path for emerging leaders

By: Sam Dano
April 03, 2023
Women in the House Cohort with the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau at the Prime Minister’s Reception.
Women in the House Cohort with the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau at the Prime Minister’s Reception

Empowering Women in Politics

What does it take to encourage the next emerging women leaders that they have what it takes to lead Canada forward?

The TMU Women in the House program is Canada’s first and only academic course that provides experiential learning designed to empower women who aspire to become leaders in the political arena. It is co-taught by Professor Tracey Raney from the Department of Politics and Public Administration and Peggy Nash, Senior Advisor to the Dean of Arts. This interdisciplinary course is an innovative opportunity for women-identified students to explore their interests in politics and learn from women with different backgrounds and experiences. Having the opportunity to shadow a woman Minister or MP and her staff in Ottawa, students are provided with first-hand experience of what it means to be a woman leader in this non-partisan program. 

Women in the House Cohort at Queen’s Park standing on the grand staircase
Women in the House Cohort at Queen’s Park

The main objective of this course is to break the gender barrier prevalent in the Canadian political realm by offering a comprehensive understanding of the political system through topics related to the underrepresentation of marginalized people in politics, and the intersectional analysis of public policies, among others.

“As a young woman starting out in politics you often never have the chance to sit down with such strong women leaders and discuss so openly how we as women are the elephant in the room.”

Savannah Brough, Arts Master’s student

The course also provides a platform to discuss issues relevant to women in politics, such as how to overcome barriers like institutional sexism, racism, homophobia, and hypermasculine stereotypes of leaders. Its goal is to empower women to develop strategies and supports that will enable them to navigate these issues more effectively, fostering an empowered space for women to learn about the political system and develop valuable skills necessary to become a strong leader in their chosen career, whether that be in elected office, in the public service, in law, or in the non-profit sector.

Emerging Women Leaders Take Over Parliament Hill

To celebrate International Women’s Day, the current Women in the House cohort of 29 students recently had the honour of attending a reception hosted by Equal Voice and they were invited to attend President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen’s historic address to Canada’s Parliament. They also attended thePrime Minister's reception (external link)  in honour of the President’s first visit to Canada.

Women in the House Cohort with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Women in the House Cohort with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

In separate speeches, both leaders expressed Canada’s and the European Union’s shared priorities, including maintaining a robust response to Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine; fighting climate change and accelerating clean innovation; pursuing energy security and sustainable economic growth; and promoting women’s economic empowerment. The leaders also reaffirmed that women and girls play an invaluable role in fostering an inclusive future and expressed their support of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in all their diversity.

“On a personal level, this trip could be described in many ways: life-changing, extraordinary, incredible, unimaginable, and most importantly, transformative.”

Sarah Hnatkivskyy, Arts Undergraduate student

Amongst the activities in Ottawa, students were able to meet Cabinet Ministers Marci Ien (external link) , Carla Qualtrough (external link) , Anita Anand (external link) , Melanie Joly (external link) , and Kamal Khera (external link) , Senators LaBoucane-Benson (external link)  and Yonah Martin (external link) , and Equal Voice’s Executive Director Chi Nguyen (external link) .

The Women in the House program is an essential initiative that aims to break down the political gender barriers that still exist in Canada and outside its borders. By providing women-identified students with experiential learning opportunities and a comprehensive understanding of the political system, this program is empowering the next generation of women leaders. With continued efforts to empower women in politics, we can create a more inclusive future and ensure that women have a seat at decision-making tables across the country.