Hey allies, Thanks for your support!
We’re pleased that the conversation about getting more women involved in local government has continued on past the Leadership Summit at the end of October. With two elections coming up next year, it’s a great opportunity to make change and see more women involved and elected. We’re even more pleased that new voices have joined the conversation and brought this to the attention of elected officials at council tables in Niagara.
As women, we know very well that the under-representation of women in local government is a problem and we are doing something about it. Thankfully, there are many women-led groups in Niagara, both formal and informally-organized, who have been working on this priority for some time now. Collectively, we appreciate your support and we invite you to work together with us to make it better. Male allies are an important part of the movement but male voices are not and should not be the primary ingredient.
As elected officials, citizens and advocates, here are some ways you can support and amplify the work we’re doing to get more women involved in politics and community leadership:
- Be a mentor. If you’ve run for office, or held a position of leadership, share your learning and your experiences with someone new. As our friend Kim Milan would say, “Share everything you learn.”
- Make connections and help to build networks by introducing women to people who might be interested in mentoring or chatting with them.
- Connect with and share the latest news from women’s groups and organizations who are on the ground and doing this kind of important work, groups like Women In Niagara (WIN), the Niagara Women in Politics Group that presented at the Leadership Summit, or individuals you know.
- Pass the mic! If you’ve got a public platform, share that with someone. Pass the mic or use your seat to give someone new the opportunity to participate in community conversations.
- Look around and start asking questions. When you’re at a meeting, a presentation, or on a board, look around and ask, where is the diversity? Do the attendees and participants represent my community? Are there women at the table? Does this group represent my community? And ask these questions out loud.
- Avoid “manels” – all-male panels of “experts”. As recent media articles pointed out, there are plenty of qualified, dynamic and talented women in Niagara who would make a fantastic addition to panel discussions. If you’re organizing or participating in a forum, summit or conference in our community, demand balance and strive for parity within the speaker lineup, even if it means giving up your own seat to make way for a woman who brings a new face and a new voice to add to the conversation.
- Get loud. Call out sexism when you see or experience it.
- Recognize women in leadership of all varieties. Recognize leaders who may not be at the front of the line or on the podium, yet are doing great work in their communities.
- Seek out and encourage diverse voices in community conversations.
- Listen! You don’t have all of the answers, and don’t have to. Welcome input from all sides of an issue, and be open to hearing new voices.
- When it comes to issues of gender equity, women are experts with lived experiences to learn from.
- Show compassion through belief and acceptance for individuals who wish to share their lived experiences.
- Be a good ally and compassionate leader by listening, showing your support, and being open to always learning.
We look forward to working together with all of the individuals, groups and allies to make real progress and get more women involved and elected in 2018, and future years.