Ask Her re-launches flagship program to train future female politicians

Program with 20 women begins May 27, with some moving toward an October 2021 run in Calgary's municipal election

Gillian Hynes promoting Ask Her at the Womens March Resource Fair, Jan. 18. CONTRIBUTED

Only 3 of 14 of Calgary city councillors are women – and those at Ask Her are trying to change that.

Ahead of the October 2021 election, the Prepare Her flagship program wants to prep 20 women to run for office.

“To do that we want to offer that support,” said Gillian Hynes, Acting President, Ask Her YYC Board of directors.

“For us, [that] looks like training and capability building programs, and also to understand the barriers that keep women from running.”

The initiative put together to address gender inequality in municipal representation. Though women make up 50 per cent of the population, having only 3 female Councillors out of 14 only accounts for 20 per cent inclusive representation.

Twenty diverse women were gathered for the pilot group for the program. It will be 10-week online program that kicks off May 27.

A future schedule for Ask Her and Prepare Her events. CONTRIBUTED

“This program is important because Calgary’s City Council is far from achieving gender parity,” read the Ask Her media launch.

“Prepare Her helps break down the barriers that women face that hold them back from running.”

Those in the program will learn about running a political campaign from seasoned political leaders, campaign experts, academic leaders, and business professionals.

The Prepare Her program is designed to inspire women, and educate and empower them with comprehensive training. It’s focused on creating a “pipeline” of women who want to run for office.

This is a graphic created by the Women’s Centre of Calgary that outlines the gender inequity in politics and business. WOMEN’S CENTRE OF CALGARY

COVID-19 forces program to move to online

It was originally meant to run in March, but complications from COVID-19 forced a remodel.

Those at Ask Her worked with their 20 participants to create and adapt their pilot program to an online format – and it hasn’t been all difficult.

“It’s actually opened [things] up a little bit as well,” Hynes said.

“Kids can be sitting on your lap while you’re taking the program virtually.” said Hynes.

Facilitators from outside of Calgary and across the province are now able to lend their wisdom through the virtual format. Participants are also able to better work the courses into their daily schedules.

Along with child care, there are often a number of barriers that women face when entering into a leadership position.

This includes self-doubt and imposter syndrome, cultural and societal gendered notions of leadership. It also covers the threat of online harassment and bullying, according to the media release.

Prepare Her will not only empower women as individuals, but also give them a supportive community to thrive within.

Hynes and her team are excited the program still gets to go on. They hope it inspires the women participating to run in the upcoming 2021 civic election

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