Equal Voice U of T, a multi-partisan organization devoted to increasing female representation in government, organized a meet and greet with Kellie Leitch, federal minister of labour and minister of Status of Women last Thursday.

During the talk, Leitch discussed her collaborations with Equal Voice on a number of projects. Leitch said that she prioritizes the advancement of women in leadership roles. The minister gave the audience a short autobiography, starting with her origins in Fort McMurray, and discussed her own experiences navigating the world of politics.

Leitch praised the organization for their work in executing their mandate. “ It’s outstanding to be part of an organization that empowers young women to get involved in politics,” said Leitch.

The minister’s final notes were on the Girl’s Advisory Council, a federal initiative under her purview that she announced on International Women’s Day. The council, according to Leitch, is aimed at acquiring female youth’s perspectives to advise the government.

For Daryna Kutsyna, president of Equal Voice at U of T, Leitch is a personal role model. “I think that the work we do is common sense. Women bring about a different perspective and it’s common sense to showcase different perspectives,” she says.

Shuyin Yu, reporter for hercampus.com, says that events such as these attract a host of students who are interested in equality in government. “We have so many people interested in law and politics and it’s important to get involved with the events,” Yu says.

According to Yu, events like these bring feminism into the spotlight, adding that promoting female representation in politics is a step towards positive change.

She also says that, as 30 per cent of federal Cabinet members are now women, progress is on the horizon.

As a U of T alumnus and professor currently on leave, Leitch was recognized as a role model for gender equality.

“I have a mother and a sister whom I love and I’m glad they live in a free country where they can pursue the lives that they want,” says Mack Blith, who attended the event because of his interest in politics.

Leitch used the speech to share her optimism about Canada’s democratic system. Using herself as an example, she explained the democratic privileges Canadians have to succeed.

She says that her own humble origins are evidence enough for hard work being fruitful.