An Open Letter to the Canadian Media

Up for Debate 2021 is a campaign coordinated by an alliance of women’s rights and gender justice advocates from across Canada. During the 2021 federal election, we are calling on all federal parties to outline action plans in support of women’s rights, gender justice, and an intersectional feminist economic recovery in their election platforms and focus on women’s rights and gender justice in all federal leaders’ debates.

As media organizations producing and covering the French and English debates, you are in a position to help shape the national conversation. Up for Debate – and our endorsers – are disappointed that media coverage of the election to date has failed to include a women’s rights or gender justice lens. Even the official form for submitting questions and priorities for the leaders’ debate omitted women’s rights and gender justice among the many issues listed.

As outlets that have been reporting on the COVID-19, you are aware of how the pandemic has affected women and girls – both cis and trans – and Two-Spirit and non-binary people. You’ve been reporting on these issues throughout the pandemic, and we urge you to maintain this focus during the election.

The pandemic has laid bare the extent to which our economy depends on the paid and unpaid labour of women. Gender-based violence has increased dramatically in frequency and severity and women, particularly Black, Indigenous, racialized, newcomer, immigrant, refugee, non-status, and those with disabilities, have been disproportionately impacted by a pandemic that limits their ability to seek help or access services.

COVID-19 is threatening decades of gains for women’s economic equality and safety. It’s time for women’s rights and gender justice to be front and centre in this election.

We’re Up for Debate on these key issues. Are you?


Up for Debate 2021 Steering Committee