News / London

Coun. Joni Baechler's training her own magnificent seven

Could there one day be a Baechler 7 at City Hall?

Coun. Joni Baechler laughed heartily at the notion, even if she is giving six protégés a head start in politics. “Wouldn’t that be funny? I don’t think that’ll happen in this town, but it’s a nice thought,” she said with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Baechler is taking her role as mentor to six female students of King’s College just as seriously as she does her lead in London’s participation in Head Start, a program that will see young women aged 16 - 24 address and identify barriers that limit opportunities for them to participate in municipal decision-making.

“The Federation of Canadian Municipalities put out a call in the summer asking cities that are interested in coordinating a Head Start program to apply,” she said. “I applied and found out in September that we’re one of seven communities across Canada to do it.”

“We represent 52 per cent of the population, but only 25 per cent of the municipal seats,” Baechler said.

The United Nations defines 30 per cent as the minimal percentage of women required for governments to reflect women’s concerns.

Baechler has lined up representatives from Western University, local colleges and school boards to start rolling out a series of forums, the first of which will take place Friday at King’s College.

"It’s not to say that men don’t make good decisions,” she said. “That’s not what this is about. It’s about a perspective that you have as a male and I have as a female.

"We’re very different and have different ways of dealing with a problem. So having that perspective represented at a political tale or civic discussion is very important. Otherwise, you’re missing an important voice of half of the electorate.”

At a glance

Cities participating in Head Start:

Ottawa, Grand Forks, BC, Beaumont, Alberta, Gatineau, Quebec, Bathhurst, New Brunswick and Rigolet, Labrador.

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