MNL encouraging more women to run for office
With a municipal election coming up this fall people have been announcing their intentions to run for councils across the province.
Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador president Karen Oldford said she would like to see more women take a place at the council table.
Oldford, who is the mayor of Labrador City, said it’s something she’s been working on for years and MNL has been encouraging women to run for office long before her time as president.
Oldfold is currently involved with the Mark Your Mark campaign, which is encouraging more people generally, and woman specifically, to run for council positions within the province.
Many women have a skill set they often do not value when it comes of running and organizing families and keeping everything going, she said.
“Whether or not they’re in the workplace or a stay-at-home mom, they’re juggling many different responsibilities and trying to discover the best way to invest and provide the best choices for their family, and on and on and on,” she said. “So when it comes to transferable skills, many have them in spades because municipal councils deal with a broad range of topics and you’re always prioritizing and looking at how you can try to accommodate everybody for the greater good.”
Oldford said municipal politics is a juggling act and women are used to doing that with their families, and organizing responsibilities, even if they don’t always recognize it because it may not be a formal type of education or formal experience in the workplace in a
profession that uses those skills on a regular basis.
“Research has certainly proven for many years now that women bring so much to the table because they are so used to looking after the welfare of everyone around them and finding that balance,” she said. “If you educate a woman, you educate a family is really how it goes in the world.”
In an ideal world, council tables would look very much
like a cross section of the community, including men and women, retirees and working citizens, business people and employees, Oldford said. Municipal councils ideally work together to make the best decisions for the residents, so as a mayor her vote is no different from any councillor around the table.
“I do not have a veto. I do not have any extraordinary powers unless there is a state of emergency. I can call that and appoint people to committees. Other than that, that’s the end of my authority – no different from any other councillor,” Oldford said. “It really is a team. When you look at municipal council, it works together for the greater good of your community, to try to make it a place where everyone wants to live, work and play. You want to leave it better for the next generations to come. It’s a labour of love.”
She said one of the things they’re learning from Make Your Mark is there seems to be more women involved in municipal politics outside the Avalon Peninsula and in the smaller communities than in some of the larger urban towns.
Oldford said they are not really sure why that is the case but pointed out that in the City of St. John’s, which is one of the oldest municipalities in the province, there have only been four women elected to municipal council.
“I was quite shocked about that. There’s a lot more work we need to do so that women can see themselves in these roles,” she said.
Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador president Karen Oldford