The Numbers

  Women Candidates Women Elected
  Liberal Party
of Canada
National Avg.
(National parties)
Total #
Total %
of House
2008 36.8% 29.5% 69 22.4%
2006 25.6% 24.8% 64 20.8%
2004 24.4% 22.5% 65 21.1%
2000 21.6% 18.9% 62 20.6%
1997 27.9% 22.4% 62 20.6%
1993 21.7% 22.1% 53 18.0%


While women in other countries are entering politics in ever greater numbers, in Canada we are moving backwards. The number of women elected to federal office has been stalled at about 21 per cent for more than a decade now.

It was only in 1918 that all women in Canada achieved the right to vote and in 1929, women were finally legally recognized as “persons” under the law. Canadian women have come a long way since then, but we have a ways to go. While women make up 51 per cent of the Canadian population, only two out of every ten candidates for political office are women and we have only 21 per cent representation in the House of Commons.

Women’s representation in Parliament has plateaued over the last four federal elections, and in fact decreased following the 2006 election. Meanwhile the Liberal Party of Canada has consistently been just above the national average among national parties’ in the number of women candidates that have run in each federal election. Despite the achievements in removing the formal obstacles to women’s political involvement, we have not seen women’s numbers significantly increase on Liberal Party candidate lists nor in the House of Commons since 1997.

Canadians pride themselves on being leaders on the international stage. But where do we stand in the global ranking of women in the political arena? Canada has fallen to 44th among 187 countries on the basis of the number of women in their national parliaments. Women in Pakistan, Germany, Argentina, Costa Rica, South Africa, Rwanda and Mozambique (to name a few) are more represented in their electoral systems.