Niagara Region is partnering with the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC) Women in Niagara (WIN), City of St. Catharines, YWCA, Future Black Female, Services 4 Humanity, Muslim Senior Circle and Niagara Region’s Women’s Advisory Committee to encourage more diversity in elected councils in 2022.
Niagara Region’s Seat at the Table program aims to address barriers that women and gender diverse people face when running for municipal office, while also improving the environment once elected. Despite being just over half of the Niagara population, women are underrepresented in local government, especially in senior leadership.
The programs goal is to increase the number of women and gender diverse people, particularly from underrepresented groups, elected for municipal government in Niagara. The program aims to promote understanding, awareness, and confidence through education, mentorship and support to those interested in running for election.
The program consists of four workshops that will help women, gender diverse people, and underrepresented groups feel informed and educated when making the decision to run for local government or supporting a female or gender diverse candidate. Those who are successful in being elected will then be invited to participate in three sessions in 2023. Niagara Region Seat at the Table will provide participants with the knowledge and skills to run a successful campaign and support throughout their term, if elected.
This initiative is funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada in partnership with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Canadian Women in Local Leadership (CanWILL) Program.
The first session, taking place virtually on Thursday, April 7 at 6 p.m., will be open to all women and gender diverse people across all 12 local municipalities. The workshop will inspire and prepare women from underrepresented backgrounds to run for election and change the face of elected councils to better represent the people of Niagara. Register by April 5 for the first session on Niagara Region’s website.
At the end of this session, those who are interested in running for municipal government can apply to participate in the following three workshops targeted towards campaigning and entering politics. These include getting organized to run, working with other levels of government, policy and planning and managing public scrutiny, harassment, addressing bias and discrimination. These workshops will run monthly from April to June 2022.
Women and gender diverse people who intend to run for election will have mentorship opportunities as part of Niagara Region Seat at the Table. Once candidacies are announced, mentorship will pause until the end of the election to prevent partisanship or bias. Post election, newly elected officials will be matched with elected officials across the local municipalities to continue mentorship.
This program expands upon the previous Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) grant-winning Seat at the Table program previously run by the City of St. Catharines and, the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (in partnership with Women in Niagara).
“As the Chair of Niagara Regions Women’s Advisory Committee, I’m thrilled to see the Seat at the Table program kicking off at the Regional level. I would like to thank our community partners who have worked hard to prepare exciting and engaging workshops for our residents. Increasing the number of women and gender diverse people, particularly from underrepresented groups, elected for municipal government in Niagara is essential to ensuring that municipal policy and programming can better reflect the diverse needs of our community. This program has the capacity to improve the quality and effectiveness of our local political institutions.” ~ Regional Councillor and Chair of the Women’s Advisory Committee Diana Huson