The Barriers Project: Retention of Women and Gender Minorities in Municipal Elected Offices in British Columbia and Alberta

Women and gender minorities elected to local government are experiencing alarming rates of bullying, harassment and abuse. And you have the opportunity to prevent it by taking action now.

The Feminist Campaign School in partnership with Climate Caucus set out in 2021 to understand why progressive women and gender minorities leave local government after serving only one or two terms, and what it would take to retain them longer in their roles.

We surveyed women and gender minorities in local governments about what is missing in the logistics of the work including whether they receive adequate pay and benefits, are offered flexibility to meet other obligations or hold other jobs since most of these roles are considered part time, what training and supports are provided, and whether they are provided accommodation for disabilities. We received a variety of responses that painted a bleak picture about whether the role of serving as a mayor, councilor, or regional district representative works for women and gender minorities. .

We expected to hear that significant barriers exist. However, we weren’t prepared for the relentless and consistent accounts of bullying, harassment, and abuse experienced on the job – not just from constituents, but from staff and colleagues alike. 

There is a gap in accountability as elected officials are not protected by workplace regulations, have no one to turn to when they experience harmful behaviour, and have no standard accountability mechanisms to hold people accountable for their behaviour. In practice this means that people elected to local government roles have no oversight for their behaviour when it causes harm.

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Join us in advocating for change with local and provincial governments to move on our calls to action and support women and gender minorities in local government. Sign up to receive updates on the project and opportunities to advocate for change.

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A partnership between Climate Caucus and The Feminist Campaign School with a generous financial contribution from WAGE Canada.