News / Edmonton

Advocacy group calls on women to run in next municipal election

Equal voice wants women to make up 50 per cent of candidates when city heads to the polls next year.

Lana Cuthbertson is the chair of Equal Voice Alberta North, which is calling on more women to step up and run in the next municipal election.


Equal voice wants women to make up 50 per cent of candidates in municipal election

ALEX BOYD/Metro

Lana Cuthbertson is the chair of Equal Voice Alberta North, which is calling on more women to step up and run in the next municipal election. Equal voice wants women to make up 50 per cent of candidates in municipal election

The next municipal election is exactly a year from now but, at present, less than a quarter of declared candidates are women.

Equal Voice Alberta North is calling for that to change.

The low number of women candidates is "pretty typical of Canadian politics," the organization's chair, Lana Cuthbertson, said. "It’s even a little better than we see federally, it’s a little worse than we saw in the last provincial election, and it’s about the same number we saw last time municipally."

So far, 21 people have declared their intent to run for a council seat in 2017. Only five of those are women.

The numbers are similar to Edmonton's municipal election in 2013, when only 21 per cent of candidates were women. And of those Coun. Bev Esslinger was the lone woman elected.

School boards did slightly better, gender-wise: Four out of nine public school-board trustees are women, as are five out of seven Catholic trustees.

Equal Voice's goal is that women will be half the candidates next year. To get there, they're calling on the city at large to encourage qualified women to sign up.

Cuthbertson said we also need to address the barriers that tend to keep women out of politics.

“Women still tend to be the primary caregivers of children, do more work around the house and typically with male partners, their partner’s careers tend to be prioritized,” she said.

She said she also hears concerns about the way female politicians, from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to Premier Rachel Notley, are treated and talked about on social media.

Community advocate Miranda Jimmy officially launched her campaign Monday, bringing the number of women running--including Brandy Burdeniuk, Shelley Tupper, Mimi Williams and incumbent Bev Esslinger--to five.  

Jimmy agrees there are certain societal barriers to women running.

“There is still a perception that you have to be older and male and white, and that politics is almost an after-career,” she said.

But she added diversity goes beyond gender.     

“I think any elected office needs to be representative of the people and I don’t think our current council is.”

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