News / Edmonton

As municipal elections approach, province steps up efforts to get more women on the ballot

Status of Women Minister Stephanie McLean to hold webcast Monday

Alberta's Status of Women Minister Stephanie McLean led a call for more women to enter municipal politics Monday.

Government of Alberta / Supplied

Alberta's Status of Women Minister Stephanie McLean led a call for more women to enter municipal politics Monday.

Alberta’s first Status of Women minister put out a call Monday for women to run for male-dominated city council and mayoral seats in this year's fall municipal elections.

Women hold about 25 per cent of council seats in Alberta – a number that’s even smaller in Edmonton and Calgary – while close to one quarter of town and city councils have no women at all.

McLean pointed to studies that show most women have to be asked three times before they will decide to run.

Speaking from personal experience, she said she had always wanted to run for office, but it wasn’t until someone else asked her to run that she felt she could pull it off.  

“For some reason, there was this voice in my head that I had to be asked – I needed somebody else to see the value in me as a candidate. And I think that is a largely gendered view of things,” McLean said.

“I needed that external validation. But once I had it, I was really excited to take the opportunity.”

University of Alberta Students Union President Marina Banister said women are “consistently underrepresented” in student politics as well, noting they make up up 25 per cent of candidates for executive positions despite accounting for more than half the student population at the U of A.

The union recently launched a program called Stride to encourage greater participation from women and nonbinary individuals in student governance.

The minister will host a live webcast next Monday as part of the Ready For Her campaign, which is encouraging women to run for office in Oct. 16 municipal elections. The Ready for Her website also includes a guide with information on campaign fundraising and how-to YouTube videos by female politicians.

Sept. 18 is the deadline to declare candidacy.

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