Participating in the decisions that affect your life is a key ingredient in a good quality of life and a good society. On Monday, October 21, Calgarians will vote to elect their mayor, city councillors and public or separate school board trustees. Voting in this election is one way you have a say in the direction The City of Calgary will take.
What does the City do?
The City offers many services that impact the daily lives of Calgarians. Some of these include transit buses and C-trains, parks, recreation programs (including before and after school programs), animal and bylaw services, 3-1-1 call centre, police, fire, recycling and garbage, and clean drinking water. The City also provides funding through Family and Community Support Services to community organizations like the Women’s Centre, and is also continuing its work on the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative. School Trustees make decisions on educational programs, budgets and facilities in K-12 school systems.
Representation of women on City Council:
Studies indicate a correlation between the number of women running in an election and the number of women that obtain seats. Currently, 3 out of 15 seats on City Council are filled by women, or 20%. During this year’s election, only 16% of all candidates are women (9 out of 58). In 6 out of 14 wards there are no women running at all, and in only one ward, ward 7, voters will see two women’s names on the ballot. These numbers represent a decrease in gender parity from the 2010 election. As a comparison, Edmonton has a slightly higher percentage of women running for City Council this year than Calgary (21%), but has also seen a decline since 2010 (25%).
Why is women’s representation in government so low?
During a panel discussion featuring several local women politicians at Make One Change, a women’s gathering we hosted earlier this year, we learned that some of the barriers to women’s representation in politics include sexist attitudes, financial risks (e.g. campaign expenses, job leaves), and family responsibilities as the majority of unpaid work within the home generally falls on women’s shoulders. Studies show that the more equal representation of women in positions of leadership, boards and government, the more equitable the outcomes of decisions are for all.
How to get involved:
First and foremost – VOTE! Click here to watch Q&A forums with each of the candidates running in the upcoming election. A full list of candidates can be found here. For more information on your ward, click here; to find out where you can vote, click here. All other election information can be found on the City’s website.
More ways to participate:
- Share tweets and posts online and have discussions with friends, family and neighbors to help spread awareness about the issues of low representation of women in government and the barriers women in politics face.
- Connect with Equal Voice – “a national, bilingual, multi-partisan organization dedicated to electing more women to all levels of political office in Canada.”
- Volunteer to campaign for an individual or party whose platform you support by handing out flyers, making phone calls, delivering signs, etc.
- Consider running for office in the next election!