ON both the mayoral and city council fronts in the 2014 BC local government elections this Saturday, there are fewer women than men running for municipal elected office.
Out of 423 individuals running for mayor, only about a quarter (24 percent) are women.
Several PhD students at the University of British Columbia have collected and analyzed the data on the numbers of women candidates running in the upcoming municipal elections. Grace Lore, PhD candidate in political science, found that in almost half (47 percent) of BC municipalities, there are no women running for mayor, and in only 15 municipalities (less than 9 percent) are there two or more women candidates for mayor.
City council candidate numbers are similarly asymmetric. Lore found that only 88 out of 287 (30 percent) candidates for city council in BC’s 10 largest municipalities are women. In the 2014 provincial election more women ran for both the NDP (38%) and the Liberals (35%) than are now running for council in most major cities in British Columbia. Nanaimo has the fewest women running for city council (19 percent), and Kamloops has the most (41 percent). In Vancouver, only 33 percent of candidates are women.
Municipalities are responsible for many issues important to women and the gender imbalance may mean women’s voices and perspectives are not heard. The United Nations has emphasized the importance of women’s political representation and argued that a minimum of 30% is necessary before policies reflect the needs of women. At current levels of candidates it is unlikely that most cities will reach this critical mass of women in this Saturday’s municipal election.
Headquartered in Vancouver, the Canadian Women Voters Congress is a non-partisan charitable organization dedicated to educating and empowering women to participate in democracy. For more information, visit www.womenvoters.ca