Madam Chair and members of the committee, I would like to thank you for allowing me to speak today about some aspects of the realities that women face in municipal politics.
Politics at the municipal level are one of proximity, and often serve as an incubator or a springboard for moving to other levels of provincial and federal politics.
We are going to talk about what we have experienced in plenary committees and municipal councils, but you often face the same situations at your caucuses and parliamentary committees.
For the purpose of this exercise, we noted two important aspects where intervention, education, mobilization and tools are necessary.
The first aspect is recruitment. We have to make sure that there are several female candidates at the next elections, and we are working hard for this to be the case. The second aspect is retention. We have to determine what obstacles women currently face in municipal politics and which make them not want to run again.
To adequately meet the needs of this committee, we focus on recruitment and retention.
The mission of the Réseau femmes et politique municipale de la Capitale-Nationale is to encourage women who are interested in politics to make the jump into municipal politics and to remain there, either by encouraging networking or offering other tools.
Our network covers 58 municipalities, 6 of which are regional county municipalities (RCMs). There is the RCM for Charlevoix-Est, the RCM for Charlevoix, which you now know, the RCM for Île d'Orléans, the RCM for Côte-de-Beaupré, the RCM for Jacques-Cartier and the RCM for Portneuf. In addition to these RCMs, there's also Wendake. There is also the greater Quebec region, which covers the cities of Quebec, Ancienne-Lorette and Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures.
Our network has been in place since 2011. We are a non-profit, non-partisan organization. We provide support through our coordinator, and our board is made up of company directors, business leaders, local councillors and former councillors, etc.
Since I have little speaking time, I'll try to move ahead quickly.
We have to speak to a certain number of women to find out how to influence the culture and the operation of their organizations and agencies, and also how to contribute to performance improvement. The University of Western Ontario conducted a study in 2006 stating that gender diversity on boards can bring various points of view, raise more discussions and allow for better decisions to be made.
For municipal politics to be able to benefit from the unique contribution of women, for every seven elected representatives, three would have to be women, which represents 43%. Right now, in Quebec city, 31% of elected representatives are women. Therefore we are far from having a more inclusive culture for women.
When a survey was conducted right before the last municipal elections, mayors told us that they had a hard time recruiting women. This is the case for all political parties, and specifically for women under 35 years of age.
Our network examined this issue, and I will allow Ms. Gilbert to tell you more about this topic.