The City of St. Catharines and Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC) are teaming up to get more women on the municipal ballot, and in seats around the City Council table.
Thanks to a grant from Women and Gender Equality Canada, in partnership with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the City is excited to launch Seat at the Table, a new mentorship program in cooperation with the GNCC’s Women in Niagara volunteer advisory council. Applications to the program open today for women who have an interest in politics willing to undergo six months of mentorship with the City’s three female councillors; Ward 1 Coun. Lori Littleton, Ward 4 Coun. Karrie Porter, and Ward 5 Coun. Dawn Dodge.
The focus of the program will be to provide six participants with unique insight into politics and the operations of City Hall by allowing them the chance to interact with and shadow local politicians and community leaders. Participants will learn about council processes, electoral politics, community issues and running for an election. The hope is the program will drive more women — including those from marginalized and under-represented populations such as racialized, LGBTQ2S+, young and indigenous women — to enter politics in the hopes of achieving greater equality at City Hall and beyond.
“As an organization we remain deeply committed to gender equality as just one opportunity to increase diversity and in turn better serve and represent our residents,” said City Chief Administrative Officer Shelley Chemnitz, the first woman to hold the post at the helm of the city. “Seat at the Table, and programs like it, are crucial in showing women of all ages and backgrounds that they too can be leaders in their community, that their voices matter and they can strengthen any organization.”
Currently of the 123 elected municipal officials in Niagara only 34, or 27 per cent, are women. While that level of representation marks a record number of women elected in Niagara it falls short of a truly equitable result, or even the City’s 2021 goal of a 30 per cent minimum for female representation.
“Governments that reflect the demographics of the community are best equipped to meet the needs of the community,” said GNCC President and Chief Executive Officer Mishka Balsom, adding, “gender equality on boards and in leadership positions should be sought not just because it is an equitable or ethical action, but because it offers actual, tangible performance benefits to organizations.”
Seat at the Table will consist of monthly group workshops, alongside one-on-one mentorship with female councillors and community leaders. Each participant will receive a $200 honorarium and additional support for transportation and childcare costs.
Applications close at 4 p.m. on Nov. 15. Seat at the Table is open to St. Catharines residents, aged 16 and over. Six participants will be chosen from those who apply. The program will run from December 2019 until June of 2020.
For more information on the Seat at the Table program, or to apply, visit www.stcatharines.ca/SeatAtTheTable.
Chief of Staff, Mayor’s Office