Women in Politics: Intersectional Representation

Photo of Aahelee Bandyopadhyay via Douglas Students’ Union

DSU hosts coffee house chat

By Katie Czenczek, News Editor

On October 17, DSU women’s representative Aahelee Bandyopadhyay hosted a coffee house chat at the Coquitlam campus.

The chat, titled Women in Politics: Intersectional Representation, aimed to provide a forum for students to come by and share their opinions on women in the political sphere. From 2:30 to 4 pm, students could eat refreshments provided by the DSU and watch a TV set up to show perspectives from women who are currently in politics. Two people showed up to the event, neither of whom were students from Douglas College. The coffee house chat was held in room A1190.

Bandyopadhyay said in an interview with the Other Press that is has been challenging to encourage people to come to coffee house events.

“It’s really hard to get people involved in these events because it’s not easy to get students talking about whether abortions should be legal,” she said.

Those who did attend discussed the role of women in politics and how it dramatically differs depending on which country is being looked at. There was an emphasis on intersectionality: The idea that gender, race, ethnicity, religion, wealth, and sexuality all interact with one another to impact a person’s experiences in the world. One of the attendees, who asked to not be named, said that in her own experience in Canadian politics, women were often expected to take on government positions that only discuss family or women’s matters.

“It’s rare to see a woman in a government who isn’t working for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs [sic],” she said.

Bandyopadhyay said that she thinks it’s important to look at the issue of women in politics more broadly than just focusing on Western countries.

“It’s a very controversial topic, and I’ve said before, it’s different in different countries,” she said. “We can’t generalize the entire situation globally. For example, a tiny country like Bangladesh has its female president, whereas in Canada and the US you still have that male dominance in the political arena.”

Rwanda is the leading nation for female involvement in politics, with 64 percent of politicians being female. Following behind it were the countries Bolivia, Cuba, Seychelles, and Sweden, according to NPR.

Other topics that were discussed included the idea of tokenism in politics, which is where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s name was thrown around. It was not too long ago that Justin Trudeau gave his famous “it’s 2015” retort to the reporter who asked why he chose to have a gender-balanced cabinet. In 2015, his office was the first in Canada to ever have a 50-50 women to men ratio in office—and that does not even include those who are nonbinary.

Bandyopadhyay also said that the DSU will be hosting future events like these for any students interested. There will be one centred around reproductive rights and another focused on the history of transnational feminism.