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Ask Her YYC begins Calgary campaign to draw more women into municipal politics

The campaign has begun to recruit more Calgary women to put their names forward for the 2021 municipal campaign.

The Calgary group Ask Her YYC has launched a four-part speaker series called “Count Women In” that will prepare potential female candidates to participate in Calgary’s 2021 civic election.

Currently, there are three women – Couns. Druh Farrell, Jyoti Gondek and Diane Colley-Urquhart – on Calgary city council.

Ask Her YYC president, Nagwan Al-Guneid, said one of their goals is to build a pipeline of strong female candidates that can put their names on the ballot.

“We want a pipeline of women who are trained and more aware of the challenges. We want to see more women run,” she said.

“Research shows people have no problem voting for women. We need to get them on the ballot first.”

Coun. Jyoti Gondek is one of three female Calgary city councillors. LIVEWIRE CALGARY FILE PHOTO

50/50 split isn’t ‘mission accomplished’

Eventually Al-Guneid said they’d like to fix the gender imbalance on Calgary city council, but it’s not about a numbers game.

“It’s not like once we get a 50/50 split we’ll just finish, like, mission accomplished,” said Al-Guneid.

“We talk a lot about the numbers when we’re running, but are we looking at the right numbers. People don’t talk about the numbers in the pipeline, how to cultivate girls’ interest at an early age.”

The Count Women In speaker series will address four key areas: Sex(ism) and the City, Campaigner to Candidate, Surviving Social Media, and Women Belong in the House (and Council Chambers).

Female candidates don’t want to be part of social media ‘hate’: Ask Her YYC president

Al-Guneid said the social media component was a big one; it was something they’d heard from a lot of women. She said most women didn’t want to be a part of the “hate.”

“The thing is, social media is really a part of our life. It’s part of our campaigning,” she said.

“Social media 101 is not to feed the trolls and not to talk to the trolls. And I know this is easier said than done. But this is part of the conversation. Let’s talk about this. How do we hope to survive social media? And how do you utilize it for your own benefit?”

Social media experts will be a part of that conversation, offering women the tools to counter what can be an online mess.

The first of the speaker series goes Dec. 5, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the McHugh House (1515 Centre Street South). Couns. Farrell and Colley-Urquhart, along with Okotoks town councillor Tanya Thorn will take part, and it will be moderated by Mount Royal University professor, Lori Williams.

For more information, visit the Ask Her YYC Facebook page.