District, YWCA Muskoka project aims to increase women’s participation in local government

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The District Municipality of Muskoka in partnership with YWCA Muskoka has received a grant of $5,000 through the Towards Parity in Municipal Politics project that is sponsored by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and funded by the Department for Women and Gender Equality. The Towards Parity program funds local initiatives that strengthen opportunities or reduce barriers for women and allow them to fully participate in local government. The District of Muskoka is one of grant 20 recipients across Canada.

Muskoka’s Towards Parity project plans to engage a range of local women in a one-day Election School with three follow-up Booster Sessions to further prepare women as they work towards their candidacy and running for municipal government in fall 2022. All events will take place in the spring of 2020.

Currently in Muskoka there are 52 municipal councillors (including the Chair and Mayors). Of these, 30 per cent (16) are women, despite the fact that women make up almost 51 per cent of Muskoka’s permanent population (Statistics Canada: 2016 Census).

“The experiences of women in Muskoka are critical to the sustainable development and well-being of communities in changing times, especially when locally delivered, provincially funded services like employment supports, social assistance, child care fee subsidy, education and health are under pressure to privatize, downsize, develop new operational models or amalgamate into larger catchment areas,” said John Klinck, chair of Muskoka District Council.

“This project is particularly important as the perspectives and experiences of women need to be seen and heard in rural communities like Muskoka, and in local municipal government in general. If decision-makers are predominantly men, Muskoka will continue to reflect the values, cultural perspectives, unconscious biases and priorities which benefits their interests above other more marginalized populations,” said Hannah Lin, executive director of YWCA Muskoka.

Muskoka’s Towards Parity Election School and Booster Sessions will focus on women who are interested in becoming involved in municipal government by providing engaging information and educational opportunities. It is hoped that by reducing barriers the project will help increase the representation of women, and amplify the voices and visibility of women in municipal government across the District.

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4 Comments

  1. Laura Lyn Carter on

    This is great! I will be looking to run and this will be of great benefit to help steer me in the right direction.

  2. Unfortunately, it is often difficult for women to obtain the confidence and self-esteem to tackle the political arena. Some are homemakers; some are executive assistants; some are junior executives; and too few have broken through the glass ceiling to join the men.

    Certainly, take advantage of this opportunity. But other avenues do exist: Volunteering (with an eye toward an executive position) is an excellent one, and although several local clubs have folded, Toastmasters is a superb way to make you comfortable on your feet (to whatever extent you choose to participate).

    Great initiative!

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