What can we do to attract more female candidates? We believe that young women should be encouraged while still in school by including presentations, testimonies, mentorship possibilities and even tours of town councils in CEGEP and university courses. In order to accomplish this, through their experience and their passion, young elected women need to show that it is accessible and that there is support from women from within.
We need to organize female student gatherings in town councils, internships for female students. We also need to offer them attendance incentives. We must demystify the role of a woman that has been elected, and work long in advance. We must implement a plan that will foster a work-life balance by taking the following measures: change the preparatory meeting times from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., including dinner, daycare, and homework help; provide for a distance operating mode on computer gateway during work sessions; review the wages of municipal representatives, which range, in the smallest municipalities, between $8,000 and $18,000.
Within community organizations, we need to diversify our work by creating networks of business women and of indigenous women. Women have proved that they can contribute to these organizations, where often they hold management positions. We need to invite them to build the future by being heard in the public sphere and by getting involved in politics.
Having been unable to find official data on the retention of municipal representatives, in 2015 the network conducted a study on their perseverance in municipal politics. The network asked itself the following question: why encourage female candidates?
Our findings led to the nine following points associated with the organizational environment that would encourage them to persevere: find meaning, confidence, independence, co-operation, support and mutual help, recognition, respect, transparency and work conditions.
How do we face the issues of retention? We must implement an integration mechanism for newly elected men and women, offering them mentorship and networking activities. Our network believes that a permanent tool needs to be designed for municipal representatives so that they can assess the climate of plenary sessions or of municipal council sessions.
Thank you very much for your attention.