Why You Need To Vote On October 19th

I turned 12 earlier this year. Not long before my birthday, my confidence in being a girl plummeted. This wasn’t just an age related blip. It was more of a deep frustration about being a female in a society that fails to recognize us as equals. I felt as though my future was limited by my gender identity. I could see nothing positive about being a girl.

I was incredibly frustrated to find out that my male peers might one day be paid more than me even if we worked at the same job. And I was scared and angry to know how much more likely I was to experience violence than males.

Post-WoDA2015-Li_Cvr_FAAround the time there had been a lot in the news about violence against women in Canada. Through these news stories I heard that women who have experienced violence might not be believed. That instead, society might blame them for their experiences of violence. And that some groups of women don’t seem to ‘matter.’ I felt that our society makes females responsible for protecting themselves instead of teaching boys and men to treat women and girls with respect, dignity, and equality. I didn’t know why I had to be taught to ‘stay safe’ instead of society creating a safe environment for me.

I think all girls should want to know how candidates in the upcoming election plan to address gender equality and violence against all women. How urgent are these issues to them? They are really urgent to me. If about half of all girls growing up in Canada might experience violence, what will our government do to lower the chances of me experiencing violence because of my gender? And how do candidates plan to fix the wage gap? Is it going to be the way it is now by the time my peers and I are adults?

I want our government to prioritize these issues for all women in Canada. No matter who they are.

By the time I am able to vote, I want Canada to be a safer, more equal place for everyone. And I want to be able to see my future as something positive, as something to look forward to, instead of something to be nervous about.

#womenvoteforaction

Rishona is a member of YWCA Toronto’s Girls’ Advisory Council.