Standing up for the country we want

Illustration by Terra Loire Gillespie

Illustration by Terra Loire Gillespie

Election season is an important time to ask yourself, “What kind of country do I want?” Amid increasingly dangerous rhetoric and policy restricting Muslim women’s right to wear the niqab, and other Islamophobic legislation such as Bill C-51 and Bill S-7, Women in Toronto Politics feels clearer than ever about the country we want.

The country we want celebrates freedom of choice about how we adorn our bodies and express our faith.

The country we want sees clearly that coercion is coercion, whether we are coercing women into or out of certain items of clothing.

The country we want recognizes that patriarchy has been part of the Canadian story for centuries and is not the exclusive province of “new stock” Canadians. The white settlers of Turtle Island used (and still use) violence against Indigenous women as a key tool in the project of colonization – regardless of whether this fact is “on the radar” of our political leaders.

The country we want values and supports the leadership of Muslim women like Zunera Ishaq in the Canadian intersectional feminist movement.

The country we want has party leaders who all vehemently, unequivocally reject Islamophobic, racist, and otherwise bigoted statements and policies.

The country we want eschews racist vote-pandering that cynically claims to be in women’s best interest. The country we want actually centres women’s voices, safety and freedom in policy-making.

The country we want offers affordable child-care and housing for all, welcomes refugees, listens to the call for action to halt the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women, puts an end to violence against racialized women inflicted by police and border services, stops selling guns to men who have a history of violence against women, understands the role of accurate and comprehensive census data in formulating inclusive social policy, and champions free (and shame-free) access to physical and mental health care for people of all genders.

The country we want believes that women know what is best for them and listens when they tell us what that is.

The country we want is within reach. It burns brightly within our hearts and yours. It grows whenever we listen with an open mind to those with life experiences different from ours, and make a genuine effort to understand. It flourishes when we share what we have learned with our family, co-workers, friends and other loved ones – whether it’s on social media or over the dinner table. Join the conversation on Twitter to help build the #countrywewant.

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