Moms should be a force to be reckoned with in politics. Not only do mothers control most of the family spending, but they are also often the ones taking care of three generations – their children, their parents, themselves and sometimes their spouses too. Canadian mothers are the ones taking family members to the doctor, making child care or nursing home arrangements, going to the grocery store and paying the heat bill, all while commuting to and from a full-time job.
Many of the key issues in the election – healthcare, education, environment, poverty, day care – are not only issues of importance for mothers, but also major areas of expertise for them. That means it is critical that moms pay attention to the issues, have access to the candidates and go vote on election day.
Getting moms to talk about the election
When the Canadian government fell in March and social media sites were abuzz about the election, a couple of Toronto bloggers were concerned that not enough moms were talking about the election. Emma Waverman from the blog Embrace the Chaos said:
When we thought about which bloggers were talking about the election, we could only come up with a couple names. We wondered if we could encourage women who have a social media platform to use it to engage, inform and excite people about the election. There are so many issues that affect families and women and yet so few bloggers were talking about them.
That led Waverman and fellow blogger Karen Green from The Kids are Alright to kick-off the ‘Mom The Vote’ movement to get moms talking about the issues. Using the hash tag #momthevote on twitter and later expanding to include the Mom the Vote Facebook page, Green and Waverman kicked off a non-partisan initiative to get moms of all political colours, as well as undecided moms, chatting about politics. Talking about her motivations for starting ‘Mom the Vote,’ Green said:
We were hoping that #momthevote would spark an online discussion of election issues that were important to families, and it has turned into not only a vibrant and varied conversation, but a call to action – both to women to get out and vote and to politicians to amend and offer policy that benefits women and family, or we’re not going to vote for them.
#momthevote takes off
The movement certainly took off. Speaking to her initial concerns that moms weren’t talking about the election, Waverman says: “It turns out they only needed a little gentle reminder, hashtag and a button.” In less than one week, the Facebook page has had almost 27,000 views and over 900 posts. The #momthevote hash tag on Facebook is incredibly active with people from all political persuasions sharing information and exchanging ideas. Waverman notes that it is interesting that “the Twitter hashtag and the FB page tend to have completely different discussions, ideologies and people on them.”
Some of the political parties have been engaging with moms, including the Liberal Party of Canada’s leader Michael Ignatieff holding an online town hall with parents and the New Democratic Party’s Jack Layton issuing a statement about #momthevote. The initiative has also received a lot of attention in both mainstream news media and on a variety of political and non-political blogs.
After the election
While this initiative was started specifically for the current federal election in Canada, who knows where it will go after May 2. Perhaps it will evolve into an ongoing initiative to engage politically aware mothers in Canada, much like Moms Rising has in the United States.
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Annie blogs about the art and science of parenting at the PhD in Parenting blog.
Image: Mom The Vote Logo