FCM celebrates international women's day and recent successes in closing gender gap in municipal politics (08/03/2012)
In celebration of International Women's Day, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) underscored its commitment to getting more women elected to municipal councils at home and abroad.
"FCM's efforts to bridge the gender gap in municipal governments have achieved real results," said Berry Vrbanovic, president of FCM and councillor for the City of Kitchener. "With every success at home and abroad, our commitment grows stronger."
The United Nations defines 30 per cent as the minimal percentage of elected women required for government to reflect women´s concerns. In Canada, 25 per cent of elected municipal officials are women. Canada ranks 39th 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 women need to be elected each year from now until 2026.
With support from Status of Women Canada, FCM has implemented a number of initiatives to recruit and train women to run in municipal elections. Sixteen campaign workshops and 10 webinars have been held to date with encouraging results: almost 40 per cent of the initial workshop participants have been elected. In British Columbia, where FCM offered eight workshops, women now make up a historic 34 per cent of municipal councils.
FCM will expand its efforts with the recently announced Protégé program, a national pilot project that will help young women gain the experience they need to run for municipal office.
"FCM's goal is not only to have more women run for election, but to ensure that they have the tools to win," noted Pam McConnell, chair of FCM's Standing Committee on Increasing Women's Participation in Local Government, and councillor for the City of Toronto.
Abroad, with support from the Canadian International Development Agency, FCM and its municipal partners are encouraging gender equality and women's participation in local politics. The African Women in Local Government Network and the Ghana Women and Leadership Forum brought together female elected leaders and staff from different countries, including Canada, Latin America and Asia. In November 2011, FCM and the Association of Ukrainian Cities jointly hosted the Municipal Local Economic Development program's first-ever forum on securing equal rights and opportunities for women and men in Ukraine. Study visits to Canada also allow women in partner countries to learn about FCM's work to increase women's participation in local government and economic development.
"Partnerships with Status of Women Canada and CIDA are important examples of what the federal government and Canada's municipalities can achieve at home and abroad by working together," said Karen Leibovici, first vice-president of FCM and Edmonton city councillor.