Voting is a critical responsibility that we all have as citizens. It’s a right, and a privilege, to have the opportunity to partake in the political process and make our democracy work. As the largest and longest serving women’s organization in Calgary, there are many issues at a municipal, provincial and federal level that we feel strongly about and advocate on often. We have a unique and critical opportunity to strengthen our city and ensure the issues that matter most to us are addressed. Supporters of us may also consider these three so-called ‘social issues’ during this municipal election.
Without further delay, here are the three issues that we believe Calgary’s next city council needs to address are:
- Commitment to the implementation of the Notice of Motion on Gender Equity and Diversity
- Recognition and action on poverty as it is gendered
- Commitment to implementing the City of Calgary’s and community’s affordable housing strategy and the plan to end homelessness.
Gender Equity and Diversity
In 2016, Calgary was ranked one of the worst Canadian cities for women by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 23rd place out of 25 metropolitan areas. We were very supportive and grateful for this motion as it is a means to make Calgary a better place for women and persons of diversity to live and work. It provides a tangible pathway to increase the participation and advancement of women and underrepresented groups in civic and political life. In past years, women and persons of diversity have been deeply underrepresented on Calgary’s city council. Diverse perspectives and voices are critical to ensuring the best ideas and solutions are at the table when city council is making decisions.
We want to see Calgary’s next city council commit to implement the notice of motion its three specific initiatives:
- Advancing the profile and awareness of gender equity and diversity within the community
- Advancing the profile and awareness of gender equity and diversity for City Boards, Commissions and Council
- Advancing the profile and awareness of gender equity and diversity within The City’s workforce.
Poverty is Gendered
Did you know that when children are in poverty – and in Calgary one in 10 children are – it’s usually because their mother is in poverty? The face of poverty in Canada is a woman’s face and when women live in poverty, so do their children. Women begin to be more at risk of experiencing poverty almost immediately when they are born based on our society’s understanding of gender roles. Transitional gender roles are learned and reinforced throughout women and men’s lives with respect to work, family and household duties. Gender roles are reinforced in school where boys are more likely to be praised for their academic and intellectual work, while girls are praised for their appearance, behaviours and compliance.
We also know that poverty and violence against women are connected: women recognize that fleeing abuse is likely to plunge them and their children into poverty and perhaps, homelessness. Children of women who have left abuse are five times more likely to live in poverty than women who stay with the abusive partner.
We ask that Calgary’s city council stay the course on the poverty reduction strategy from “Enough for All”.
Implementation of the City of Calgary’s and community’s affordable housing strategy and the plan to end homelessness.
One in 3 Calgarians are concerned about not having enough money for housing. Calgary is a city known for its boom and bust economy where housing and rental rates often skyrocket overnight; it’s sadly no surprise that more than 90,000 households need affordable housing. The households in the greatest need are female seniors living alone, female-headed lone parent families and indigenous households. Housing is a basic right, and a stable and sustainable lifestyle for women, children and men requires affordable housing.
We have the solutions, we know the strategy and now we need to take steps to create a city where everyone thrives and no one worries about not having enough to keep a roof over their head or put food on the table.
A slide back in either poverty or affordable housing would be a disservice to the women whom we work with now and the women we hope never to meet in the future. We are excited to work with city council to ensure that Calgary is a great place for women and their families to thrive.