While Oxford County Campaign School welcomes all participants of intersectional identities, we are particularly interested in navigating the barriers presented to women entering municipal politics.
These are some key facts about our community and the values we promise to bring to the Municipal Campaign School Oxford County.
- Of all eight lower-tier municipalities, six have only one woman elected as councillor. None of the eight mayors are women.
- Each of the 43 elected mayors/councillors are white.
- The next municipal election will be held on Monday October 24, 2022.
This is a national/global challenge with a local solution
- 18% of Canadian mayors and 28% of council are women; this challenge is not unique to Oxford County. This isn’t about laying blame on our community; this is a systemic challenge.
Fostering confidence and a culture of support
- Women are not an “ideological block”; we might not even necessarily even have the same views with other women in the program. What we do want to do is empower them to find their voice, lean on each other for support, understand the needs of their community and become advocates for their voters. The campaign school will support their ambitions, full stop.
- The reality is that encouragement is more important to female candidates than male. Or put another way, “women are more likely to be recruited to run than to come to candidacy entirely on their own.” Women are also more likely to be discouraged from politics so those things compounded make it crucial to have a network of support.
Promote the value of diversified council and community leaders
- This isn’t about calling men or council out, this is about calling everyone in; having diverse voices on council is good for everyone.
- Diversity is good for innovation and problem solving. The more perspectives you have trying to understand challenges, the more solutions can be presented.
- In all aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) it asks/requires people of privilege to step back to make way/room for more diverse voices to be included whether we are talking about a board room table, municipal politics or sports. This is the difficult, but necessary, part of the conversation and we welcome that conversation. We are doing our best to acknowledge our own privilege as straight, white women and we welcome that conversation too. Change means leaning into, not away from, discomfort.
Building a pipeline of candidates and community leaders
- Regardless of whether they decide to run or have a successful campaign, the process builds leadership capacity in our community. They may get elected in the future or choose to take on other leadership roles in the community such as council committees or non-profit board of directors.
Addressing the societal perception of women’s political participation
- Women must navigate a world that operates on long-held stereotypes and gender expectations. This means encouraging the media and the public to be more conscious about how we speak about women in politics.
- This is not a “women’s issue”; gender equality cannot happen without men. Although we don’t provide support to men via the program, we welcome them as willing participants who support the vision of diverse council representation.