Women in House
A groundbreaking initiative, the Women in House Program was established in 2001 by McGill Political Science undergraduates Gallit Dobner, BA’01, MA’03, and Chi Nguyen, BA’03. This one-of-a-kind program offers female McGill students a two-day trip to Ottawa, during which participants take a tour of Parliament, hear individual politicians speak, attend panel discussions and have the opportunity to spend a day shadowing a female MP or Senator.
The purpose of the program is to foster a desire for political involvement in and enthusiasm for Canadian politics among McGill women. As women continue to face underrepresentation in all levels of government in Canada, this mandate continues to be extremely important. The program aims to generate in participants an interest in pursuing a career in Canadian politics and more important, to demonstrate that the obstacles to achieving these goals can be overcome.
By spending a day with a female MP or Senator, students acquire an inside view of political life, a perspective unattainable in a traditional classroom setting. During a competitive process, as many as 175 female McGill University students submitted applications to participate in the 2013 Women in House program. The 37 selected participants showed excellence in their academic, leadership and community endeavours, and a great diversity of backgrounds and experiences.
Who Runs Women in House?
Each year, two to three female McGill students apply from the group of previous participants to run the Women in House program. The 2013-2014 Coordinators are Shaina Agbayani, Finola Hackett, and Elyse Surette-Dimuzio.
Quick Fact: The number of participants has more than doubled since its inception (from 14 in 2001-2002 to 37 in 2013-14).
I participated in the Women in House Program in 2011, and it was an invaluable part of my academic career at McGill. By providing me with direct exposure to Parliament and strong female leaders, it showed me that I, too, could end up in Parliament. Being a Women in House Coordinator allows me to help other bright, young McGill women to experience this wonderful program, and hopefully be inspired to delve into the realm of politics. In a world where female representation in not only government, but also other fields is so inadequate, encouraging young women to aspire to their goals is essential!
My favourite female politician since first grade has been Hillary Rodham Clinton, but I’m also a fan of Rigoberta Menchú, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Elizabeth May.
During the 2013 trip, TVMcGill and Women in House collaborated to film a series on the program. TVM members accompanied our participants to Ottawa, shot footage of the program, and interviewed speakers for the project. The completed YouTube video may be viewed here.