Charlottetown – The PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women was pleased on Tuesday to see Valerie Docherty appointed as Minister Responsible for the Status of Women. “We will be happy to work with Valerie Docherty again as Minister Responsible for the Status of Women,” says Diane Kays, the Chairperson of the Advisory Council. “The Advisory Council’s primary role is to advise this minister on issues important to Island women,” says Kays. “In Min. Docherty’s previous time as Minister for the status of women, Council members were impressed with her willingness to listen and learn and her clear commitment to the Status of Women portfolio.”
Kays says that the Advisory Council on the Status of Women was disappointed to see only two women appointed to Prince Edward Island’s Cabinet. “Counting the ten ministers, the Premier, and the Government House Leader, a shocking one-sixth of the most prominent faces on the Government side belong to women,” says Kays. “This is serious under-representation of a group that makes up more than half the population.” The Cabinet announcement coincided with Persons Day on October 18, the day set aside to commemorate the landmark day when women became “persons” under Canadian law in 1929.
Continues Kays, “This is a missed opportunity for government to show young Island women role models of leadership. Role models are important so the next generation of politicians will look more balanced and more diverse – more like the population of the Island.”
Emphasizing the positive, Kays says, “The good news here is that Valerie Docherty and Janice Sherry, the two women appointed to Cabinet, have excellent experience.” Both Docherty and Sherry have served as Minister Responsible for the Status of Women in the past.
Council members were also pleased to see Minister Janice Sherry appointed to Environment, Energy and Forestry, a portfolio not traditionally held by a woman. Kays added, “We still would like to see more women chosen more often to fill the most prominent and influential portfolios.”
Next, the Advisory Council on the Status of Women will be looking forward to the election of the Speaker of the Legislature. “Having a woman in the Speaker’s chair takes her voice out of debate, which we can hardly afford with women so under-represented,” says Kays. “However, the speaker’s role is a position of visible leadership.”
Kays concludes, “Given the small showing of women in the Cabinet, we will certainly be looking to the legislature to fill the Speaker’s chair with a woman.”