We need more women
London’s 2014 election cycle took off over the past week with the nomination of several candidates for City Council, and the announcement by a few incumbents declaring they are not planning on running for Council again.
Already we see trends indicating Women will be under represented on Council in 2014 unless something changes. Out of 15 nominations filed as of January 6th, 12 were men and only 3 were women. In addition, Joni Baechler, Nancy Branscombe and Judy Bryant, 3 of the 5 current women City Councillors, announced their decisions to step down and not run in the upcoming election.
All of this potentially leaves London with a lack of women candidates. It is still very early in the election cycle and more women may step forward, but it will take an active approach by the London community to ensure we have gender representation on our future Council.
Why gender representation is important The United Nations says that at least 30% women representation is needed before political bodies like City Councils, produce public policy representing women’s concerns and before political institutions change how they operate. Without representation, issues that impact women are easily overlooked or thought to be included in male perspectives. Women don’t always agree on what issues matter, nor are they are a homogenous group, but if women only hold a fraction of the seats on Council, there is little chance that the broad range of views held by different women will be well represented in decision making. We need diversity and not just gender diversity – race, income, ability and language to name just a few.
What we can do Each of us needs to ask women we know in our community to run for City Council or the Mayor’s chair and we need to ask them many times. It has been shown that women in particular need to be asked more than once, before they will run for office.
Most importantly, we need to show them they have our support – financially, organizationally and also once they get elected. This isn’t just a call to women in London to support other women, but a call to everyone. A community thrives when its diverse interests are represented in government.
Fortunately there are initiatives already happening. Head Start London, with the leadership of Joni Baechler, has been hosting events with young women, encouraging them to get into politics as well as providing mentoring. The City has also committed to funding a video project to further this work and ensure the message about the importance of women in politics spreads widely.
In addition, we at Women & Politics are hosting a meeting on January 20th to plan how we will actively encourage and support more women to come forward and run in the 2014 election. Join us and/or encourage a woman you know to come out and help us make this happen.
London needs a City Council that is representative of its community. It will take hard work and effort to make this happen and we at Women & Politics are committed to taking on the task. Will you join us?