The Victorian Government has launched a campaign calling on Victorian women from all backgrounds to stand as candidates for local government elections and improve gender representation.
The campaign, delivered by social impact agency Ellis Jones, and providing practical online resources, is being supported by organisations including the Australian Local Government Women’s Association, the Victorian Local Governance Association, YWCA Australia and the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria.
Manningham Councillor Michelle Kleinert, who is also the Executive Officer of the Australian Local Government Women’s Association of the Victoria Branch, said “We know the value women bring to leadership, which is why we need more of it. That includes in local government.”
“If you know a woman who deserves to be part of tackling issues from health, to climate, to the economy and the community – then #TapHerOnTheShoulder and #AskHerToStand,” Kleinert said.
“Remind her she’s got what it takes – and that we need her to help take us from uncertainty, to realising a better, more equal future, for us all.”
Kleinert joined a cohort of other female Australian leaders, calling on women to stand for local government.
In a video for It’s Our Time, a cast of female leaders emphasised the need for gender equality in local government representation, with personal messages of encouragement. The video featured Founding Chair and Women’s Leadership Institute of Australia, Carol Schwartz, gender equality in local government expert, Ruth McGowan OAM, CEO, Sustainability Victoria, Claire Ferres Miles and Yarra City Councillor, Mi-Lin Chen Yi Mei.
Former Senator and Leader of the Australian Democrats, Natasha Stott Despoja, said in a statement that it’s “definitely time for more women to run for office.”
“It’s almost 100 years since Victorian Women achieved the right to stand for Parliament (with the exception of Indigenous Women),” she said. “It is time for the diversity and difference of women in our communities to be reflected and represented.”
“I encourage Victorian women to consider representing their communities on local councils and getting behind those who choose to stand.”
Women make up half the workforce, yet represent just 38 percent of people elected to Victorian councils.
This year’s latest figures from a study conducted by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, found that female leaders create more equal and caring societies. A recent study completed by the Workplace Gender Equity Agency found that women-led businesses in Australia are more productive. It’s also well known that women are just as likely as men to get elected. The only issue? Fewer women put their name in the hat.
Minister for Local Government Shaun Leane said that serving on council was a unique chance for people to represent their community, play a role in Victoria’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and deliver changes that can make a real difference to people’s lives.
“Local governments across Victoria make decisions that help to shape our future,” Leane said in a statement. “We need a diverse range of voices on our councils and I encourage all Victorians to consider putting their hand up.”
“Local government deals with issues that affect communities every day – serving on council is a great opportunity to deliver real change.”
Victorians are heading to the polls on 24 October, where they will be voting by post. More than 2,000-plus candidates are expected to contest.