Women transforming cities

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Catchfire Catchfire's picture
Women transforming cities

 

Quote:
Women and girls make up half the population of Canadian cities. In Canada, however, only 21 per cent of elected municipal officials are women.

Girls are not typically engaged in decision making that affects their lives in cities. Engaging women and girls in municipal decision-making, policy making, urban planning and budgeting can transform cities to be more equitable, inclusive and democratic for all residents.

In some cities, women set up organizations and council advisory committees to change these statistics by addressing equality, equity and diversity. We want to build on that work.


 

Regions: 
writer writer's picture

So what can we do about the problem as it manifests itself on babble?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

writer, I have no idea.

writer writer's picture

Me, neither. I've pretty much lost hope.

My experience: a city is easier to change. A city headed by a mayor named Rob Ford.

My conclusion: this is very, very sad.

(I'd be surprised if 21% of rabble's most active posters are female. For example. That would be a great leap up for this place, at this point.)

Slumberjack

Catchfire wrote:
writer, I have no idea.

I don't know what the basis would be, under the contemporary circumstances, to conclude that it would make much of a difference within the context of government.  The same choices would remain.

writer writer's picture

Catchfire, it took a while, but I think the board's culture finally did get how ironic racism doesn't work. Gosh, I even remember pitched battles about whether same sex marriage and freedom of choice should be givens on this board. So there have been improvements. Perhaps we could start with something similar after a consensus is reached.

Because what I'm seeing now is not good. I'm hoping there might be enough allies who can actively work at turning this around, and recognize why this is important.

Freedom 55

It's something I think about often because it's quite evident that babble - even the feminism forum - is dominated by male voices. Men (myself included) need to do a better job of recognizing how much space we take up, and learn to check our own sexism. I'm not sure how likely that is to happen eleven+ years into the life of this forum. The only idea I've thought of which I think could make a difference to the culture of this forum is some sort of cap on the number of posts each babbler is allowed to make per day. The amount of drive-bys, baitings, sneers, personal attacks, frat house humour, and needlessly self-indulgent posts might diminish if one could only make a limited number of posts each day. Or not.

writer writer's picture

Freedom 55, I'm hoping that, 11 years in, some of the longtime posters might be due for an "Ah hah!" moment, and remember some of the things feminists posted here 11 years ago. And might be more willing to work at things, rather than continue to ride their privilege all the way to the revolution.

Bacchus

How many posters are really left from then writer?

writer writer's picture

When I say "11 years ago" I mean through the 11 years. I'd say pretty much all of the regular feminist women posting at that time are gone or barely here, with a (very) few notable exceptions. And they were being driven out well before the strike. We fought, but it was exhausting. Some have been driven out since, some both coming and going.

A good many of the still-active posters who do not self-identify as women and/or feminists pre-date 2006.

Bacchus

My point was (tho thanks for the clarification) is if it took how many years for regulars to get ironic racism for example, how long will it take 'new' regulars to get everyday sexism. There are few from those days so its going to take just as long (even longer I would think since society overall knows racism is bad and have no clue on sexism)

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

I'm inspired to see the topic at least being broached again. I'm not good at this stuff but I really believe this place has suffered and myself also due to the lack of feminist analysis. I revert to my playground mentality more and more it seems.

I was very happy to read babble today for the first time in a long time. And as a male I'm not sure when to say anything.

writer writer's picture

Believe me, I know it's a challenge. Which is why I've pretty well given up. (On babble, not in general. Other places show more signs of hope. Like the city of Toronto. Under Rob Ford's stewardship.) 

Edited to add: While I do think we've cleared the "ironic racism" hurdle, I am no so positive about how babble does regarding racism overall. It's always tricky to assess a discussion board, but I don't see this one as particularly diverse, or especially friendly to diversity, in terms of its tone and culture.

KenS

writer wrote:

Edited to add: While I do think we've cleared the "ironic racism" hurdle, I am no so positive about how babble does regarding racism overall. It's always tricky to assess a discussion board, but I don't see this one as particularly diverse, or especially friendly to diversity, in terms of its tone and culture.

I'm glad you added that clarification.

Along those lines. I have not seen any reason to qualify the conclusion I came to some time ago: that internet forums are HOPELESS- utterly- for being able to challenge and get people to work on how they interact.

It's a challenge when it is in person. But even with 50 people, it is a manageable challenge. You are not always going to get anywhere. But no matter how difficult, it is never hopeless.

Within internet forums, there are definitely individuals who reflect and engage. But the process allows people to slip out of that and still participate as if nothing happened. That can also happen with face to face. But as far as I can see, it WILL happen on internet forums.

 

Still keeping in mind that I may be overy pessimistic in this assessment... if its true, then no amount of moderation or 'working on the culture' can push against the tide.

And tell me, do you have a practical idea what 'working on the culture' means for an internet forum? What does it look like? We can identify and describe a bad culture. Just look around. But identifying what is wrong only make us THINK we know what to do about it. As if critique is of itself going to jump up in tha air and work magic.

If the good old days really were better, maybe it was just an anomalay rooted in conditions that were guaranteed to pass. I'm not saying that is true, and I've 'only' been around here less than half of those 11 years so I would not know anyway. But it bears thinking about. And if it is an anomolay, then referiing to degeneration of the culture is missing the boat.

writer writer's picture

Love the latest guy posts, where it's "We can't do anything about it! We are helpless in the face of our own behaviour!"

Happy travels as you continue to eat the earth and rob others of the very oxygen in the air. I know, at least you care about it.

KenS

Speak for yourself.

I'm not helpless. But I need a social unit to work within.

I do work on this stuff in 'social units' I am part of

And I guess what I am saying is that over time I wonder if an internet forum can be conceived of as a social unit where people can work on challenging things. I don't see you doing it either. Thats not a criticism of you. To me, its realism about where we are.

Slumberjack

Oh Ken.  How could you not know by now that describing, accessing, and situating are the same as the wiping together of hands?  The very act of doing so speaks for itself as a disfigured record that skips defeatism.

writer writer's picture

The very oxygen.

Caissa

NB has its municipal elections on Monday. Currently, 1 of our 11 elected representatives is female. Our system consists of a mayor, four wards which elect 2 councillors each and 2 councillors elected at large. All 4 of the candidates for mayor are male. 2 of the 5 candidates running in my ward are female, including an incumbent.  At least one of them is likely to get elected, if not possibly both. The front-runner in the At-large elections is a woman I graduated from high school with as well one of our ex-mayors (female) is running for an at-large seat 3 of 6 canditates for the at large seats are women. I'm not as aware of the races in the other wards. On May 15th, the number of female councillors  will definitely be at least 2, probably 3, with 4 not being out of the question. Prior to our last two mayors we had Shirley McAlary and Elsie Wayne as mayors from 1983-2004.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Wow. Talk about not getting it.

Caissa

Are you referring to me, Maysie?

I was responding to Catchfire's OP. I wanted to provide some information on the state of municipal politics in Saint John re. women's involvement in municipal politics since Atlantic Canada is greatly under-reported on this forum. AC being a conservative part of the country probably has less female participation in politics than other regions of the country.

I can't see any benefit to my engaging the discussion from posts 2-17.

lagatta

I'm very glad that Caissa has got this discussion back on track. The issue of women's under-representation on babble and silencing of some feminist voices is important too, but it should be held in a distinct thread. Could one be started?

As many of you probably know, I've been very involved in urbanistic/urban ecology and housing rights issues for decades, both in cycling and public transport advocacy and in tenants' associations (which are also involved in neighbourhood planning issues). Here in Montréal, there have been initiatives to look at planning and safety (including "subjective safety") issues from women's viewpoint, not to privilege women over men or children, but because for too long, planners have contemplated these issues from the standpoint of a youngish or early-middle-aged man, with no disabilities or social handicaps. When disabled people agitated for accessible streets and sidewalks (especially lowered curbs for people using wheelchairs), suddenly it was discovered that these lowered curbs at corners were a great boon for parents pushing prams and strollers (and at the time, these were mostly mums), people carrying stuff or doing shopping on food (once again, usually women), elderly people etc. This concern was broadened to better signals for people with visual or hearing handicaps.

We have been pushing for more bicycle paths and lanes with some success. Some would like to see these lanes run in the centre of roadbeds - increasing visibility of cyclists and meaning less problem turning left. There is a problem though. Many, many female cyclists, and older cyclists, seek out a curbside to start off again after having to stop (at traffic lights or blocked by traffic). This is not due to a lack of experience but physical reasons - it is harder for shorter people to do a jumpstart, and painful for people with arthritis - I'm in both those categories.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I thought of you when I heard about this initiative, lagatta!

I was thinking that things like public telephones, public washrooms, and more green space would be increased with more women urban planners. It's interesting to hear you talk about lowered curbs, because one of the first things I realized (to my shame) when I started pushing around my wee spark in his pram was how difficult it must be for a person with reduced mobility to get around this city. I had no idea and it was suddely so much clearer to me what needed to change.

[I don't want to take away from the significance of writer's intervention and observation and the subsequent discussion, but I agree with lagatta that it should take place in another thread--perhaps the one in which a consonant conversation is taking place]

lagatta

Yes, I've seen so many dads of late pushing strollers and prams - different from my generation, and far more so from the generation before. Women-centric planning, and disabled-centric planning etc, is good for EVERYONE.

Caissa

NB held its municipal elections yesterday. In the prior two councils, there had only been 1 woman out of the 11 councillors around the table. Two terma ago, it was Deputy Mayor, Michelle Hooton and this time it was Patty Higgins, daughter of former mayor Tom Higgins. She won her seat in a run-off vote after having tied with a male incumbent (the only councillor of colour) in the original race. Both of them spoke at times about the challenges  of being the only woman around the table.

Last night there was a possibility of 5 women being elected. Out of this mathematical possibility 4 were elected with Patty Higgins going down to defeat in my ward. There were no female candidates for mayor. Relatively new councillor Mel Norton (he won a by-election when Carl Killen became a provincial PC MLA) defeated incumbent Mayor Ivan Court by a 5-1 margin garnering 75% of the vote. The race for councillor at large was topped by two women. Leading the way was former Dean of Business Shelley Rinehart (we graduated from high school together.) By tradition the top vote getter becomes deputy mayor so Shelley is likely to be appointed to this position at Council's first meeting on June 4. The other at large councillor will be former mayor Shirley McAlary. No women ran in Ward 1 where Greg Norton, brother of the mayor elect and principal of an inner-city middle school, garnered the most votes while Bill Farren held on to his seat. Incumbent peter McGuire went down to defeat. In Ward 2, my riding, two women were running  Susan Fullerton and incumbent Patty Higgins. Fullerton topped the poll followed by former District Education Council member, John MacKenzie. Higgins went down to defeat with fellow incumbent Gary Sullivan, a principal of an affluent middle-school. Ward 3 saw incumbent Donnie Snook hold on to his seat. Donnie is very popular with the disadvantaged in his ward and they come out and vote for him in droves. The second seat was taken by Donna Reardon. Ward 4 did not have any women contesting the seats. The seats were won by newcomers David Merrithew and Ray Strowbridge. No incumbents ran since Joe Mott was deceased and Bruce Court, brother of Ivan Court, declined to re-offer. So 4 of the 11 members of council are women. This should bode well for the discourse at Council which over the last 4 years has been fractious at best with many accusation of bullying having taken place. 

writer writer's picture

There is a project in Toronto looking at Women In Toronto Politics, it has its own hash tag (https://twitter.com/#!/search/%23WiTOpoli) Twitter account (https://twitter.com/#!/witopoli) *and* a panel discussion being livestreamed right now here: http://torontoist.com/

(More panels to come.)

writer writer's picture

Five things I learned about Women in Toronto Politics:

Quote:
There’s a mentoring program matching women councillors with young women looking to learn the ins and outs of council called The Toronto Regional Champion Campaign, which had a booth at the event.