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Girls & Women

This Territory in Canada Just Doubled the Number of Women Elected to Government

With a mix of new and returning members, Nunavut’s Legislative Assembly will now include more women than ever before.

Many will remember when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that he had appointed a gender-balanced cabinet at the federal level, “Because it’s 2015.” It seems now that the want for female representation in government is taking hold across the country.

The number of women elected in Nunavut has doubled since 2013 when only three women were elected.

When given equal opportunities, women can act as powerful agents of change, and the female perspective make can make a great difference in how governments and communities function as a whole.

Take Action: Ask Governments and Corporations to Support Girls' Education

For starters, women tend to invest more of their earnings into their families and communities than men do, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has also indicated that countries where women hold more than 30% of the political seats are more inclusive, egalitarian and democratic.

There are examples to back this up.

In Finland, where the ministry is 62% female, they’ve created an outstanding public education system, according to TIME.

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In Sweden, where the ministry is 52% female and the Parliament 43% female, both parents are permitted 16 months of combined paid family leave (13 months is paid at 80% of their income and the remainder at a set rate).

Parliament is almost 56% female in Rwanda. Since the transition of women taking power, the country has seen a lower maternal mortality rate, and they have passed laws that allow women to own land and open bank accounts, according to TIME.

But it’s not just foreign countries that benefit from increased women’s participation in government and community.

In a Canadian study by Carlton University about women’s leadership in federal public service, it showed that women have had a clear impact on "policy, programs and operations such as in fisheries, the automotive industry, national security, natural resources, the environment, science, human resources and international relations."

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In the Nunavut legislature, there are no political parties. Nunavut and the Northwest Territories use the consensus form of government. Under this form of government, the speaker, premier and cabinet are selected from the 22 elected MLAs, by vote from the MLAs themselves. This means anyone, man or woman, could be selected.

As more women take on roles in government, perhaps a new perspective could to see changes made in issues that have long since plagued the northern territory.

Nunavut has a high suicide rate and overcrowding remains a huge issue. The lack of housing is sometimes blamed for high tuberculosis rates.

A Statistics Canada study from 2016 found that close relationships with extended family and higher levels of education are tied to good health for Inuit. Poor housing conditions and lacking access to healthcare were factors related to poor health.

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The same study revealed that only 36% of Inuit women were anticipated to be in excellent or very good health, compared to 42% of men.

Despite these issues, Premier Peter Taptuna leaves Nunavut in decent shape financially. Nunavut’s economy is expected to expand by 6.4 % this year, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

Members will be nominated for cabinet roles during the Nunavut leadership forum on Nov. 17. The selected premier will then assign portfolios to members of cabinet.

Global Citizen campaigns on issues relating to gender equality and looks for opportunities to promote women in government. You can take action here.