With the provincial and municipal elections coming up in November, local women who hold political offices are not shy to speak about their own political experiences.
According to Equal Voice’s Saskatchewan branch, only 26 per cent of women hold seats in the Saskatchewan legislature and 13 per cent of municipal reeves are women.
Those are not numbers that Saskatchewan representatives want to see. The upcoming election is time for more women to get involved but it is going to take some work. Sometimes the easiest way to get women to step up to run is to simply ask them, said Lindsay Brumwell, chapter chair for Equal Voice Saskatchewan. The second thing is supporting candidates.
“The second thing is having people support them once they are there, not shying away from donating a few dollars towards their campaign or helping out, putting up lawn signs, but actually showing up and contributing to them,” Brumwell said.
According to the 2016 census, Saskatchewan’s population is split 50.3 per cent women to 49.6 per cent men. For Brumwell, it does not make sense for a government to not reflect that. A better represented population means a more effective and impactful government, she said.
“Representation in the streets of our democracy works well when it looks like society, and that's really one of the best benefits is you will get trust and confidence in your leaders when they look and represent all people within each riding and then they get to work together,” she said.
And many women in Saskatchewan politics agree that there is not enough female representation at any level of government.
Rosemarie Falk, Member of Parliament for Battlefords—Lloydminster, was elected in the 2017 byelection before she turned 30 and as a member with a young family, her experience is much different compared to other members.
With a background in social work, she was not preparing herself to be a career politician but felt strongly about changing federal policies.
For Falk, she was “hitting that point in life where policies that are made around council tables, whether that’s provincial, municipal, or federal, affect me at the end of the day. So many people write it off as ‘Oh, it doesn't affect me’.”
It is a demanding job, Falk said, and while she misses family events and milestones because of being in Ottawa, it is also a rewarding experience.
April Phillips is in her second term as a councillor with the City of Melfort and was one of two women being elected back in 2012. Following the 2016 election, she was the only woman who ran for council – let alone the only woman who was elected.
There’s a lot of other communities that have more women on councils but Melfort isn’t one of them, she said. Phillips said she believes more women would be elected if more women actually ran for council seats but all candidates should be running because they want to do the best job they can.
Saskatchewan already has women in political positions that are doing a great job and young people don’t have to look far for great political role models, Phillips said. More politicians need to be promoting that as a possibility for young people.
“Provincially we have some wonderful women that are at the legislature that are great role models. We have many mayors in our cities in Saskatchewan. These women and councillors should be promoting to the younger generations that this is a woman's job as well as it is a man’s and that they can do.”
Dona Hoppe has been the Reeve of the RM of Nipawin since winning the municipal election in 2018 and has never felt unwelcome in her role at the head of the council table. It is a rewarding experience, she said, and, whether it is for local councils in the RM, towns, or cities, Hoppe encourages all women to get involved.
“It's good for women to understand and learn more about how rural municipalities work. I think that women have lots of knowledge and valuable input and it's a bit of a different perspective sometimes than male counterparts. It's just good to hear those opinions.”
Municipal elections for cities, towns, villages, and RMs; for reeves and odd-numbered divisions, will take place on Nov. 9. For more information, visit saskatchewan.ca/government/municipal-administration/elections or contact local municipal offices.