There are already more women signed up for the Edmonton election this fall than ran in 2013
But there are still four ward races that are men-only, advocates say
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With four months to go until the registration deadline, there are already more women signed up to run in Edmonton’s municipal election than ran in 2013.
As of Wednesday, 17 women had officially thrown their hat into the ring for next October, according to the city's notice of intent list. Fifteen female candidates registered last time, and only one woman, Coun. Bev Esslinger, was elected.
“That’s awesome,” said Lana Cuthbertson, chair of Equal Voice for northern Alberta, an organization that’s been holding workshops to try and get more women to run in the next election.
"Even just two more than last time so far is a great, great thing,” Cuthbertson said. “And there’s still lots of time to register, so we hope we see more.”
Advocacy groups like Equal Voice have long argued more needs to be done to boost diversity in politics.
“Our politicians for quite some time represented just a small portion of our population based on who they were, and it was largely white men,” Cuthbertson said. “We want to see more women in politics because it generally makes a healthier democracy.”
Esslinger, who is running for re-election in Ward 2, noted there is still work to be done. She pointed out that the races for wards 1, 3, 10 and 12 still only have men.
“The minimum we should give people is choices, and that means having women represented at all wards,” she said. “What we can do is encourage them to run.”
Cuthbertson said recent how-to-campaign workshops and efforts to recruit more women are likely contributing to the growth in interest. The political climate is also changing, she said, pointing to events like the women’s march that have drawn attention to issues around equality.
“All these things that are going on are causing women to take notice that they need to step up. We need them,” she said. “The time is more ripe than ever.”