On International Women’s Day, I reflected on the violence that women in politics have faced for generations. If we are going to have better outcomes in our society – to serve all people – we must work across party lines to create a safe political environment for women of colour, black, Indigenous, LGBTQS+, cis and trans women.
S. Furstenau: According to a 2016 study by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, 44 percent of female politicians report having received threats of death, rape, assault or abduction. Reflecting on International Women’s Day, these numbers are hard to bear. In the same year that the IPU study came out, British MP Jo Cox was murdered in her constituency. There have been many other prominent assassinations of female politicians.
Mexican mayor Gisela Mota, shot dead less than a day after she took office.
Somali lawmaker Saado Ali Warsame, killed in a drive-by shooting in Mogadishu.
Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh, killed at the age of 46.
Sitara Achakzai, shot dead outside her home in Afghanistan.
Again in Afghanistan, Hanifa Safi, head of women’s affairs, killed by a car bomb.
Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, assassinated.
Aqila al-Hashimi, shot by six men near her home in Baghdad.
Galina Starovoitova, Russian democrat, attacked with a machine gun and pistol, killed instantly.
Perhaps most famously, in 1984, Indira Gandhi shot at home by members of her own security team.
All of this happened before Donald Trump initiated the chant: “Lock her up.”
Consider that roughly eight in ten female politicians also indicated that they were survivors of psychological violence, hostile behaviour that causes fear or psychological harm. That’s eight in ten of us here.
I’m one of those eight. I know I’m not alone.
We do not have to feed the culture of violence towards each other, which disproportionately affects women. To achieve better outcomes, we must work across party lines to create a more welcoming environment so that women of colour, Black, Indigenous, LGBTQ2S+, cis and trans women will feel at ease in these halls that have for so long been dominated by white men.