Women Win Toronto pushing for better representation on city council
By Olivia Levesque
Women Win Toronto (WWT), a local advocacy group, is remaining hopeful for better female representation on city council as the Oct. 22 municipal election approaches.
Melissa Wong, a policy director for city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, and Hema Vyas, a senior policy adviser in the provincial government, founded WWT with the idea to create a politically neutral organization that offers support to women thinking about running for public office.
“We are focused on supporting women who run municipally,” Vyas said. “It’s important because right now Toronto city council is less than one-third women, and we only have one visible minority female on city council right now.”
The advocacy group spent the last year working with women through a series of workshops and training sessions focusing on building campaigning skills including crafting a narrative, leading fundraising initiatives, and strengthening media and communications skills.
Vyas said the team-building aspect of campaigning is very important and finding support is often a barrier for women interested in running for public office.
“You can’t be a candidate on your own, you need to build your own team and have your own supporters,” she said.
Out of the 15 participants in the WWT program, nine have registered for public office, two of which are newly elected NDP MPPs. Suze Morrison won her Toronto Centre riding after receiving support from WWT, while Jill Andrew won the Toronto-St. Paul’s riding.
— Suze Morrison (@DelSuze) April 21, 2018
Heading into the municipal election, Vyas said WWT has six strong candidates running for city council, and is hopeful the city will vote for better representation on council.
“We as a city are not represented on council, so the complexity and the diversity of our voices is not there,” said Vyas. “When you walk around our streets and our neighbourhoods you can see the diversity and the talent that’s missing on city council when the diversity isn’t there.”
Meet the #WomenWinTO Class of 2018. Community-minded women working together to bring progressive politics to City Hall. They’re ready to lead! #TOpoli #ElectMoreWomen #TOvotes18 pic.twitter.com/MOXTBKRx0Q
— Kristyn Wong-Tam (@kristynwongtam) June 22, 2018