Ottawa – Leadership opportunities for women in the municipal sector are essential for a more equitable Canada.
Today, thanks to research conducted by the Canadian Municipal Barometer at the University of Calgary on behalf of FCM’s Canadian Women in Local Leadership (CanWILL) program, FCM is pleased to share that women now represent 31% of all municipal elected representatives in Canada, an important milestone achieved three years earlier than the 2026 goal set by the FCM Board of Directors in 2010. The percentage of women in mayoral positions has increased by 2% since 2018 and 4% since 2015, and the percentage of women in councillor positions has increased by 4% since 2018 and 6% since 2015.
This is encouraging progress as national efforts like CanWILL seek to encourage women, underrepresented communities and racialized Canadians to pursue leadership positions with the municipal order of government.
The data also clearly demonstrates the work left to do to achieve gender parity and meaningful participation of women in municipal governance. From biases and systematic discrimination to exclusionary policies or practices and triple-burden responsibilities, women, and in particular women of diverse backgrounds, often face systemic barriers to a higher degree or with compounding effects. This research is focused on the representation of women, but FCM and CanWILL recognize that this data needs to be further refined to show progress for often underrepresented women such as Indigenous, Black, and other racialized women as well as members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, including trans and non-binary members in municipal elected positions. This type of data should be available at the next iteration of the research.
Last March, at a Board of Directors meeting in Durham, in line with our pre-Budget 2023 recommendations, FCM called for continued support for FCM’s CanWILL program – as part of a national effort to help counter harassment of female elected officials and public figures.
Currently, harassment of elected officials is alarmingly high, and is gravely affecting the retention of women, including underrepresented women such as Indigenous, Black, and other racialized women and members of the LGBTQ2S+ community in politics. It is not only critical that more women hold and remain positions of leadership within local governments but also that they are able to make a meaningful contribution to their fullest potential in environments that are free of harassment and violence.
More information about the research conducted by the Canadian Municipal Barometer at the University of Calgary on behalf of FCM’s Canadian Women in Local Leadership (CanWILL) program and its results is available here.
“Women comprise half of the population so it only makes sense they’re well positioned in leadership roles, including at the local level to make sure their needs, priorities, and perspectives shape municipal public action. Furthermore, adding diverse voices to the table can only improve decision-making. The results of today’s study released with FCM’s Canadian Women in Local Leadership program show that women representation at the municipal level is improving but 30% isn’t enough. We need to see continued effort, commitment, and action from all of us so women in elected office can shape the communities where they live and work.”
– Taneen Rudyk, FCM Past President
“CanWILL has proven over and over again that as an FCM program supported by the Government of Canada, it does meaningful work to advance women's causes at the municipal level. Women are our daughters, sisters, mothers and grandmothers whom we deeply care about and who deserve to have their voices heard in local affairs. We’re learning that their level of representation on municipal councils is increasing, which is positive but cannot overshadow the need for continued and greater action to reach gender equality and eliminate harassment and other forms of violence they too often encounter in politics and in governance.”
– Scott Pearce, FCM President
“Empowering women in municipal leadership roles is an essential step toward greater equity in Canada. The research results made possible through FCM's CanWILL program, supported by Women and Gender Equality Canada, reveals significant progress while reminding us of the work still ahead. As more women, particularly from underrepresented communities, enter politics, it not only adds diverse voices but ultimately leads to better decision-making, and more equitable outcomes for everyone.”
– Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth
For more information: FCM Media Relations, (613) 907-6395, email@example.com
CanWILL is implemented since 2021 in partnership with FCM’s membership, provincial and territorial associations (PTAs), as well as key national partners and local stakeholders. It is funded by the federal government through Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE). Designed to increase the participation and retention of women in municipal leadership roles and to support a more diverse, inclusive and equitable environment in municipal governance processes, CanWILL has already helped Canadian municipalities reach several milestones. It has provided 18 grants to municipalities and their community partners, in every province, to promote and increase equitable participation in electoral and civic processes, offered training for 1,500 individuals through capacity-building activities, and supported 4 provincial campaigns promoting diverse women’s leadership.