Women Win BIG at Council!
We now have 38% representation of women across Victorian local governments, an increase on the 2012 figure of 34%. Even better, a scan suggests that we have made progress in diversity among the elected women.
Once again following 2012 historic outcomes, every council in Victoria again has at least one female representative. In a new high, 18 councils have 50% or more women. Overall, almost half (46% ) of all councils have a critical mass of elected women (40% or over). Women councillors were successfully elected as independents as well as members of all major political parties.
There is now a higher percentage of female representation in local government than State or federal parliament. Victoria records the highest representation of local government women for any State/Territory in the nation. This work for more women has been going for over 17 years and in the lead up to this election, the GoWomenLG Project was co-funded by the VLGA and the Victorian Government.
Despite the increase in female representation, there is more work to be done to boost diversity in every local council across Victoria. 13 councils (up from 10 in 2012) have only one woman councillor for example. And nearly 1 in 5 voter electorates had no women standing at all!
And the story is not just about getting elected - the act of running for council is itself a step forward for women’s active citizenship and opens up new doorways for effective change-making by candidates whether elected or not. We can increase diversity by standing for election - as women we are young, old, Indigenous, migrants, refugees, queer, differently abled, carers, of different backgrounds, class, race, religion, and the list goes on.
A YWCA blog recently featured candidates Jessica O’Donnell (Baw Baw), Steph Amir (Darebin) and Brooke Wandin (Melbourne) and Susanne Newton (Darebin) - all elected! Steph Amir told GoWomenLG-
"As a young queer woman, one of my motivations was wanting to show other young women that they deserve to be represented and become leaders. I also feel strongly about equality and fairness, and hope to use my position as a councillor to continue to improve equality across the council, including a focus on LGBTIQ inclusion and ensuring that everyone feels welcome."
Candidate Emilia Sterjova (Whittlesea) told us that she is just like many young people who juggle sport, study, volunteering – and having fun. However, not many 19 year olds can claim to be the youngest female councillor elected in Victoria while gaining a black belt in Taekwondo. Emilia just elected to the City of Whittlesea, is nervous and excited about what lies ahead.
“I was inspired by my mother Vanessa to get involved in politics and social justice issues from a young age. Now, I want to be a voice for youth on council. I can also be a person that young people can talk to without feeling intimidated as I will be very approachable”.
So what next?
Now it’s up to us all to activate our grrl power in our local Council!! More about that in my next blog.
Contact Linda Bennett here.