Encouraging Women to Run for CouncilMedia Release
Corangamite MP, Libby Coker, is calling for women within the G21 region to consider putting their hand up for local council ahead of October 24 elections.
The State Government wants to achieve 50/50 representation across councils by 2025. Currently only 38 per cent of councillors are women.
In the G21 region, only 25 per cent of local government representatives are women.
Fourteen councils across the state, including Corangamite’s Colac-Otway shire, have only one female representative.
Ms Coker said the figures were a “sobering reminder” that there was still a long way to go in terms of female representation, not only on Councils but in other leadership roles in parliament, in business and in the board room.
Research from the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency found a strong and convincing causal relationship between an increase in the number of women in key decision-making positions and subsequent improvements in company performance.
“The data shows that when women have a seat at the decision-making table, the outcomes are better, better for business, better for the economy and better for everyone,” Ms Coker said.
Ms Coker said young women need local role models who can show them what is possible.
“You can’t be what you can’t see. It’s vital that local women seriously consider putting themselves forward as a candidate,” she said.
“If we are going to be successful in increasing female representation on councils, we need to see a significant increase in the number of female candidates,” she said.
“I’m concerned that due to COVID-19, women who may have otherwise put their hand up, might shy away from doing so.
“In these extraordinary times, where COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting women, it is more vital than ever that women’s voices are heard.
“Council’s will play a central role in the pandemic recovery so having female representation at a local level is crucial.”
Ms Coker is a former Councillor and Mayor. She was first elected to Surf Coast council in 2008 and served as Mayor between 2009 and 2010, and again from 2012 to 2013.
The Corangamite MP said her own experience on council, and the Shire’s introduction of 10 days family violence leave, have been some her of proudest achievements.
“I’m so proud of my time on the council – especially supporting the passage of the family violence leave,” she said.
“Being a member of council is a rewarding experience, and I hope other women will take up the call.
“It really is the best of both worlds. It’s possible to look after a young family – or hold down a job – while also pursuing a fulfilling career as a Councillor”
Women in Local Democracy (WILD) Convenor, Jeni Wills, said while COVID-19 will restrict campaigning, women should not be dissuaded from running.
“WILD in recognising that equality is fundamental to democracy, supports women's participation and leadership in local political life and therefore strongly encourages women to stand at the October election,” she said.
“WILD is keen to see closing of the gender gap on Councils, moving local government closer to the achievement of the state-wide target of 50/50 representation of women and men Councillors by 2025.
“Although campaigning is constrained this year, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, 2020 is a year doubly significant for women's representation in that it celebrates the centenary of the first women elected to a Victorian Council, Mary Rogers, at Richmond, and the passage of Victoria's trail blazing gender equality legislation."
Ms Coker has urged women who are considering a run for council to get in touch for advice, should they need it.
Nominations close on 22 September.Share Tweet