FCM’s Efforts to Bridge the Gender Gap in Municipal Governments are Achieving Real Results, One Election at a Time - Karen Leibovici, FCM President

British Columbia and New Brunswick recently reached the United Nations’ goal of 30 per cent as the minimal percentage of elected women required for government to reflect women’s concerns. They join the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut who reached this milestone on their way to parity.

While women make up over 52 per cent of the Canadian population, only 25 per cent of the country’s elected municipal representatives are female. Canada ranks 42nd out of 189 countries for the number of women in politics. To close the gap between the reality in Canada and the UN target, 100 more women need to be elected each year from now until 2026.

This year promises to be even more exciting as municipal elections are held in no fewer than six province and territories: Yukon, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Prince Edward Island.

With support from Status of Women Canada, FCM has implemented a number of initiatives to recruit and train women to run in municipal elections. A series of campaign workshops and campaign webinars, supported by a campaign manual, have been held across Canada with encouraging results: almost 40 per cent of the workshop participants have been elected.

In British Columbia, where FCM offered five workshops, women now make up a historic 32 per cent of municipal councils. In New Brunswick, 44 per cent of women who participated in the New Brunswick workshops ran for municipal election, and of those, 74 per cent won. With this recent achievement, women now make up 30 per cent of municipal councils in the province. Later this year, a workshop will be held in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, and another in Iqaluit.

Our Protégée pilot program also connects young women interested in gaining the experience they need to run for municipal office with excellent mentors, such as Helen Hughes, this year’s recipient of FCM’s Ann MacLean Award for Outstanding Service by a Woman in Municipal Politics.

The importance of engaging even younger women in local issues cannot be underestimated. FCM´s Canadian Women in Municipal Government Scholarship program supports secondary school students who are taking their first steps on their school’s leadership team or student council.

Whether we are addressing this important democratic deficit or the municipal infrastructure deficit, we know that our best results come when the federal government and Canada’s municipalities work together. Through our continued efforts and partnership with Status of Women Canada and Minister Ambrose, we can help municipalities reach not only the 30 per cent target, but equal representation for all citizens.”