Percentage of Women in PEI Legislature Increases Slightly
The PEI Coalition for Women in Government is pleased that the Legislature will see an increase in the number of women elected. Six of twenty-six (23%) MLAs declared elected in yesterday’s race are women, an increase from 18.5% in 2015.
With the conclusion of the 2019 election, the PEI Coalition for Women in Government is pleased that the Legislature will see a slight increase in the number of women elected. Six of twenty-six (23%) MLAs declared elected in yesterday’s race are women, an increase from 18.5% in 2015. Although an increase over 2015 results, 23% only matches or is less than all elections since 2000 and fails to set a new high bar for gender balance.
“We are pleased to see an increase in the number of women elected to the legislature.” says Dawn Wilson, Executive Director of the PEI Coalition for Women in Government. “Women made up 33.3% of candidates and 23% (6/26) of elected Members of the Legislative Assembly. Final numbers will not be available until after the District 9 by-election.”
With two women candidates running there, and a Green candidate yet to be nominated, a win by a woman candidate would bring the total percentage of women elected to 26%, still short of a historic high and still barely over a quarter of all MLAs.
Despite women making up 26% of the Progressive Conservative candidates, only one woman was elected. Women make up 1/12 (8.3%) of the Progressive Conservative caucus. One-third (33.3%) of Green Party candidates were women. Women make up 5/8 (62.5%) of the Green Party caucus. “This is the most significant representation of women in an official opposition in Canada,” says Wilson. Despite making up a party high of almost 30% of candidates for the party, there are no women in the Liberal caucus 0/6 (0%).
Wilson notes, “The data also shows that winnability matters, especially for both the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives. In the Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties, no women were running in districts where their party had won by 10% or more of the vote in the last election, and women were much more likely to be concentrated in districts where their party lost by more than 10% or more.” Wilson continues, “This had consequences for success rates among the two parties. Despite their defeat, nearly one-in-three men running for the Liberals were elected, but the party's two incumbent women were not re-elected and none of the six new women won their seats. Among Progressive Conservatives, just 16% (1/6) of women won, compared to more than half of men (11/20 or 55%).”
“The story of PEI tells the same story as the Alberta election,” says Emma Drake, interim chair of the Coalition. “We need more women running, especially in traditional parties. But it’s not enough to just have more women on the ballot. We need women running in districts where the party they run for is competitive and strong.”
One of the strongest arguments for proportional representation is that proportional systems tend to boost the election of women and other under-represented groups. “Based on the election results, it is clear that proportional representation is part of the solution to increase diversity in elected representation, including women,” says Wilson.
Monday’s election resulted in incumbent MLAs Paula Biggar and Tina Mundy losing their seats. “The PEI Coalition for Women in Government thanks Paula Biggar and Tina Mundy for their service as Members of the Legislative Assembly. Both made important contributions to government during their time as cabinet ministers. We wish them well in their future endeavours,” noted Drake. “We also congratulate the women MLAs who were re-elected last night: Darlene Compton with the Progressive Conservatives and Hannah Bell with the Green Party. We are excited to see the contributions of newly elected women with the Green Party: Trish Altass, Michele Beaton, Lynne Lund, and Karla Bernard.”
Adds Wilson, “Women consistently report that they want more collaboration in government and less competition. A Legislature with no majority provides an opportunity to demonstrate cooperation among parties.”
Wilson concluded “The Coalition thanks all women candidates for putting their names on the ballot. We will work to support all parties to continue making strides to increase their number of women candidates in future elections.”