This year, the province celebrated 200 years of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. In those 200 years, there have only been 50 women elected; sixteen of them are currently in office.
Dal students Sarah Dobson and Grace Evans have started a project to celebrate and remember the stories of the 50 women elected to legislature in Nova Scotia — a book.
The book’s working title is On Their Shoulders: The Women Who Paved the Way in Nova Scotia Politics. It will dedicate each page to an excerpt from each politician’s story: who they are, what it was like being a woman in politics at the time and their message to future politicians.
Dobson pioneered this project. She is a third-year student at the Schulich School of Law with an undergrad in political science. Dobson believes the best way to help women is to see more women in the political climate. The book, she hopes, will inspire readers.
Her colleague Evans is a third-year political science student at Dal. She believes that young women tend to “view politics as something that’s male-dominated and is often seen as unattainable and not worth pursuing.”
She hopes that those who read the book, regardless of gender, recognize the importance of having women in politics.
Funding and proceeds
On Their Shoulders is being funded by grants from the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, a council formed in 1977 to educate and advise the public and provincial government on women’s issues and concerns. Their second sponsor is Equal Voice, a Canadian organization dedicated to promoting systematic change, women’s roles in politics and electing women in all levels of government.
The proceeds of the book will go to creating a scholarship for women who want to pursue a career in the political sphere.
Dobson and Evans said they are planning on printing an initial 350-400 copies of the book, just enough to set up the scholarship. As of now, the price of the book will be $30.
Evans said that they are hoping to finish the book by March. Their ideal release date would then be Mar. 8 — International Women’s Day. “It’s an ambitious goal,” she added.
As of Nov. 25, Dobson and Evans have already spoken to 22 of the women elected. The ones who are currently in office, Dobson said, were easy to get to.
Six of the 50 women elected in the past, however, have passed away. Their families will be the ones to tell their stories.
The two creators of the book said they are hoping that it’s not only people in the political community who read this book, but young women around the province.
Dobson also said that while the book aims to celebrate women who have been elected, it also serves as a reminder of how far the province has yet to go. “The lack of representation … it’s quite clear,” she said.
“When you create a book like this, you can’t help but notice the stories that aren’t in it.”