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2 March 2016

For a feminism that brings women together

As a result of the public’s reaction to an interview I gave to the media about my role as Minister responsible for the Status of Women, I consider it important to set the record straight.

There are many visions of feminism, and I have no intention of debating the semantics of this issue.  To those who doubted my convictions after reading the article in which my interview appeared, I reiterate that, in my own way, I am a feminist.  I will not re-visit this issue in the future.

The things I have done throughout my political career – whether as Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities, as Minister responsible for Social Services or as Minister of Labour – I have always fought for gender equality, and I will continue to do so.

Recognizing the path that was cleared by others

I can assure you that I have always been, and will always be, grateful to the pioneers who cleared the path so that women could take their rightful place in society, notably in the political world.  Thanks to feminism and to those who demanded gender equality in the past, our society has greatly progressed in the last few decades.

Together, we still have work to do so that we can move from legal equality to substantive equality.  As Minister responsible for the Status of Women, that is my mandate.

In my capacity as Minister responsible for the Status of Women, my role is to defend the rights and interests of each and every woman in Quebec, in close collaboration with non-profit organizations which strive to achieve the same goal.

I believe that my role is to bring together those who stand for progress, and, in my view, progress begins when men commit to the gender equality cause.  Some will be stunned that I am saying this, but this vision coincides directly with that expressed in the recent United Nations awareness campaign to improve gender equality and enhance female autonomy.  The UN is counting on men to get involved in efforts to promote gender equality.

Unfortunately, feminism is sometimes viewed as a means of inciting conflict between men and women.

In my capacity as Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for the Status of Women, I do not see it that way.  When I answered the journalist’s question, I was thinking of that polarizing vision of feminism.

It is important to note that in a free and democratic society like ours, every individual is free to think about and to envision the cause of gender equality as he or she wishes.

I want to reiterate that the feminism I practice is egalitarian and unifying, that it is not based on confrontation, but on inclusion.  My objective is to rally men to the cause, because together, men and women can move our society forward, from legal equality to substantive equality.

I do not subscribe to some women’s idea of feminism as a conflict between men and women.  Division and confrontation between men and women does not help anyone.

As far as I am concerned, over and above political correctness and labels, what counts most, what is the most important, is gender equality.

Lise Thériault
Member for Anjou–Louis-Riel, Deputy Premier, Minister responsible for the Lanaudière region, Minister responsible for the Status of Women and Minister responsible for Small and Medium Enterprises, Regulatory Streamlining and Regional Economic Development