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Women in Municipal Government



Committee Overview

News from the Committee Newsletter
Committee Members Resources and Links 

Committee Overview

The Women in Municipal Government Committee is a Committee of the AUMA Board of Directors.

The Committee works to raise awareness of the importance of women in governance and to strengthen the participation of women in the democratic process. Priorities for this Committee include building on the work of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, identifying and addressing barriers to women’s participation in local government, communicating related issues and initiatives to the broader AUMA membership and identifying and providing input to the Board of Directors on any emerging issues.

Committee members have volunteered to serve as mentors for current and prospective elected officials.

Committee Members

Lisa Holmes, ChairMayor, Town of MorinvilleE-mail
Maryann ChichakMayor, Town of WhitecourtE-mail
Jakob HenselCouncillor, NantonE-mail
Nicole NadeauCouncillor, Drayton ValleyE-mail
Cathy NeedhamCouncillor, RaymondE-mail
AUMA Staff 
Tammy Arif  E-mail


News from the Committee

Why Do We Need Gender Balanced Governments?

While women have made many gains in the political realm over the past twenty years, progress has been slow. From about 1993 until 2011, the numbers of women elected to the House of Commons hovered around the 20% mark. Fortunately, this past federal election in May of 2011, Equal Voice celebrated a new record when nearly 25% women (24.6%), 76 women in total, were elected to the House of Commons.

Women are over 50% of Canada’s population and currently comprise an average of 25% of Canada’s municipal councils, provincial legislatures and the House of Commons.

Canada’s international ranking on women’s political representation is currently 39th (as of November 2011). Despite the notable gains in the recent federal election, Canada still has fewer women elected than most of Europe, parts of Africa, and Australia.

Polling data consistently demonstrates women care about different issues. The United Nations has emphasized that equality in decision-making is essential to the empowerment of women, noting a critical mass is needed before legislatures produce public policy representing women’s concerns.

(courtesy of the Equal Voice website)

Poll Shows Canada Wants More Women Elected

On June 18, 2009, Equal Voice released the results from a national public opinion poll which showed that a large majority of Canadians want to see more women elected in Canada.

The poll results showed that 85 percent of Canadians support “efforts to increase the number of women elected in this country”. Only 11 percent of Canadians oppose such efforts.

The poll reveals that large majorities of voters for all the federal political parties want to see more women in elected office. Significant majorities of Conservative Party voters (76%), Liberal Party voters (89%), NDP voters (93%), Bloc Quebecois voters (88%), and Green Party voters (87%) say they support efforts to increase the number of women elected. As well, 85 percent of undecided voters are in agreement.

While women are almost universal—90 percent—in their desire to see more women elected, a large majority of men—79 percent—also support these efforts. As well, large majorities of Canadians in all regions of the country want more women in elected office.

On a related question, 63 percent of Canadians think that women are under-represented in the federal House of Commons and only 27 percent think women have about the right amount of representation at the federal level.

Women in Municipal Politics in Alberta

Following the 2010 municipal election, the AUMA conducted an analysis of the percentage of women elected to municipal office in Alberta. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was found that our province is still far below the United Nations’ goal of 30% representation. Only 25.3% of elected officials are women and only 19.9% of Mayors. Villages in Alberta are leading the way with 30.9% of Mayors and Councillors being women while our cities have the lowest level of representation with only 15.4% of elected officials being women. To see the full analysis, click here.

Women in Politics Survey


The Women in Municipal Government conducted a survey during the 2011 AUMA Annual Convention. Similar to the 2008 survey, the purpose was to raise awareness of AUMA’s work in promoting the importance of women in municipal government, identify potential barriers to the full participation of women in municipal government and identify strategies and activities to address barriers and realize opportunities.

Highlights from the results include:

  • 100% of respondents agreed it was important to reach the United Nations’ target of 30% representation by women.
  • Primary barriers to participation included the perception that politics is a male-dominated career, constraints due to family responsibilities, and lack of mentorship/supports.
  • The most popular supports requested were educational workshops, resource materials, and mentorship opportunities.


In an effort to gain a better understanding of the experiences of women involved in municipal politics and to identify their unique challenges and needs, the AUMA Women in Municipal Government Committee surveyed a group of elected female municipal Mayors and Councillors, each with their own diverse background. The survey examined the history of women’s participation, current motivation and future prospects. The information collected through this survey provides insight into the experiences of women in municipal politics and highlights the barriers to active participation that need to be addressed.

Among the reasons cited to participate in municipal politics, respondents expressed an interest in having a voice within their community. This was coupled with a desire to play a positive role in their community while expanding their own knowledge base.

Respondents did express some concerns regarding barriers to their active participation. Primarily, issues were raised regarding balancing home and private life with the pressures and long working hours of Council. The perception of gender tension and questions of whether real change can be realized also played a role.

However, despite these and other reservations, none of the barriers identified were viewed as insurmountable. Mentorship programs and educational opportunities were acknowledged as important ways of meeting and overcoming these challenges.

To read the full Executive Summary of the results of this survey click here.

Convention Session

Please look for information about the Committee’s 2013 session as it becomes available.

Resources and Links

Results from the 2008 Women in Politics Survey

To read the Executive Summary of the results for the Women in Politics Survey click here.

Equal Voice

Equal Voice is a multi-partisan action group dedicated to increasing the political presence of women and women elected to all levels of political office in Canada. Click here to learn more

Federation of Canadian Municipalities – Women in Municipal Government Standing Committee

FCM’s Women in Government Standing Committee works to promote and support women’s participation in government. Click here for more information.

Experiences Mentorship Program

Equal voice is launching a new mentorship program for girls and young women called Experiences. To learn more about the program click here.

Native Women’s Association of Canada

The Native Women's Association of Canada is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies. Click here to learn more.

Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association (CIWA)

CIWA has published a resource for immigrant women wishing to learn more about civic participation. The document, entitled “Civic Engagement for Immigrant Women” can be found in the publications section of their web site.

Ballot Box Barriers

Ballot Box Barriers is an action plan for engaging more women in the municipal democratic process produced by the Association of Manitoba Municipalities. Click here to read the report and action plan.


One of the goals of the Women in Municipal Government Committee is increased communication of relevant issues to the AUMA membership. In an effort to work towards this goal, the Committee publishes a newsletter. You can read past issues or subscribe to the newsletter below.

Click here to view

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