A Challenge: Electoral Gender Parity

We all know that at this point, Vision Vancouver has an amazing set of potential candidates – at current count, we have 15 Council Candidates, 12 Park Board Candidates and 7 School Board Candidates. That’s a total of 34 candidates. However, there are a total of only 11 female candidates running for spots on the various components of municipal government. Breaking it down by board, there are 4 City Council, 4 School Board and 3 Park Board candidates who are women.

The United Nations says that a critical mass of at least 30% women is needed before legislatures produce public policy representing women’s concerns and before political institutions begin to change the way they do business (see more here , here (both PDFs) and here).
source: Equal Voice.

If I’m reading Frances‘ list correctly, the NPA have already nominated 4 women as City Council candidates, 3 as School Board candidates and 2 as Park Board candidates – meaning that they’ve already reached the magic (if we can say that magic = the minimum threshold) 30% mark for Council and School Board, and are one short of meeting that minimum threshold for Parks Board. Of course, the NPA has significantly less geographic, ethnic and age diversity than is present amongst the Vision nominees, and these considerations are also very important.

Reading the tea leaves for Vision, however, worries me – it strikes me as all too possible that the Vision Vancouver membership will end up nominating only one female candidate at each level. However, while the NPA can do very little at this point to change the make-up of their candidates, the door is wide open for Vision Vancouver to prove that not only is it the most ethnically and geographically diverse party, but it is also has understood and met the needs of gender equity.

So here’s my challenge to us all:

  • Vision Membership: You have the most important role to play in achieving a more balanced slate. Your votes will determine who represents our party in this fall’s municipal election. When deciding upon who to vote for, consider whether the list of nominees you are supporting includes women, and how the slate you’re choosing represents Vancouver’s gender balance, Vision’s progressive ideals, and the issues directly affecting the women of Vancouver.
  • Vision Candidates: We all want to be nominated, I know, so asking you (and I speak primarily to my fellow male candidates here) to actively support your fellow female candidates may seem odd, but here’s my challenge. Choose at least two non-incumbent women for whichever office you’re running for, and ask them what you can do to help them get nominated. They may refuse, but they may not. This is not meant in a patronising, ‘women-need-men’s-help-to-get-elected’ way; but rather the stark reality is that there’s a severe gender imbalance amongst the candidates. It’s easy to think that nominating only one non-incumbent woman counts as progressive, but it is mistaken. Nominating more women candidates is essential if we are serious about seeing more women elected. Regardless, when emailing your supporters, let them know the importance of nominating female candidates, and endorse at least two non-incumbent women candidates for each office.
  • Vision Executive: After this election cycle is complete, I challenge you to strike a committee to investigate electoral gender parity issues and to present the committee’s suggestions to the Vision membership for a vote on at our next AGM.