She Dared to Succeed


The relationship between achievement and service is a complicated one. This is particularly true for women. Women are generally (but not always) recognized for what they provide others as mothers, wives, nurses, and teachers, for example, but recognition for the many contributions they make in other roles, as lawyers, doctors, scientists, musicians, businesspeople, artists, politicians, academics, etc., is extended far less frequently. The personal achievements of women are celebrated and rewarded far less commonly than are those of men. Indeed, the women who accomplish great things are often stigmatized for their success.

Marie-Paule Charrette is a woman of great achievement. She has served as a social worker, a pioneering radio programmer, a media executive, the president of the Liberal Party of Canada, a lawyer, a parliamentarian in the Senate of Canada. She has sat on the boards of a number of corporations, organizations and not for profits. In all of these roles, she has accomplished something truly extraordinary: great personal achievement through public service.

It has not been easy though. As a single mother in the early 1970s she was shunned. As a working woman she encountered gender discrimination, sexual harassment, mockery, shaming and intimidation. As a senator she faced the painful public trial of a politically motivated investigation. Through all of this, though, she persevered, and her legacy of actions and initiatives continues to benefit many.