In the lead-up to the 2015 federal election, national women’s and human rights organizations came together to create the Alliance for Women’s Rights. The Alliance started the Up for Debate campaign, which had a goal of getting a televised debate of federal leaders on women’s rights. While not all federal party leaders agreed to a debate, all five federal leaders pre-recorded interviews and answered questions submitted by the Alliance. These interviews were aired at a panel event in Toronto that was live-streamed online. The campaign was successful in attracting media attention and putting the issues of women’s rights and gender justice on the agenda in the public discourse. Watch some of the videos here.
The Up for Debate campaign played a pivotal role in ensuring the incoming government claimed a feminist identity.
In 2019, the Alliance came back together to make the same request. Again, we were denied the opportunity to host a debate of federal leaders on these pressing issues.
In 2021, the Alliance is moving away from the ask for a traditional federal leaders debate and is instead focusing on urging the leaders to address these issues directly. This has always been the focus of the Up for Debate campaign. We are asking for federal leaders to show their commitment to women’s rights and gender justice through such means as official statements, in their political party platforms, and on social media.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the media has been increasingly talking about women in the economy, a national childcare strategy, and the increasing gender-based violence. The issues that the Alliance is dedicated to are being mainstreamed, which is ensuring that the issues that affect women and girls – trans and cis – and Two-Spirit and non-binary people are present in every federal leaders’ debate.