Sought critical mass

The glass ceiling 2 remaining obstacles to the proper place for young people and women in municipal politics. In response, bold actors focus on education for democratic action.

They were numerous, on the morning of 1 October 2011, to step into the lobby of the Hôtel Gouverneur Québec, to discuss among elected. Lucie Françoise Louise are among the 27.5% of women elected during the municipal elections of 2009. They used the occasion of a luncheon organized by the Quebec Federation of Municipalities (FQM) to network. The day before, the young elected or future aspirants, men and women, conversing with experienced councilors, over coffee, municipal notes: In 2009, young people accounted for 9% of the seats on municipal councils, all positions confused. Although local representative bodies begin to feminize and rejuvenate, they can do better, that’s for sure 3 .

Yet what better from political disavowal that “democratize” the bodies ensuring gender and generational representation?

No representation without representation

Esther Lapointe, Director of Groupe Femmes, Politique et Démocratie (GFPD) denounces the weak presence of women in local politics “… municipal, you have 17% of female mayors (against 13% in 2005) and 28% councilors (against 26% in 2005). ” An ideal unfinished parity. The young Quebeckers also struggling to make their way: In 2009, young people aged 18 to 34 account for only 2.2% of mayors (against 2% in 2005), while they account for 12.1% of advisors (against 9% in 2005). Youth and political commitment they would give wrong?

Research Advisor and Policy at the FQM, Sébastien Cloutier does not weigh his words when he talks about “the lack of effective representation of a generation at the municipal democracy. We deprive ourselves of a rich expertise in taking away from the politics of youth increasingly educated and informed. “Talent and ousted a Democratic debate yet to win make way for a new generation committed …

This reality also undermines democratic life about the commitment; “If young people do not have models, it is not certain they will want to get into the municipal adventure,” said Councillor FQM. Manon Tremblay, cited by the Director GFPD, writes in his book “100 questions on women and politics,” the empowering effect generated by women in politics. The picture is clear: “the more politicians are visible in the media, most adolescents say they want to be active in politics in the future.”

In short, how can democratic institutions legitimately claim to represent the will of citizens, when women, as well as a generation, are so present in the body known as the closest to the citizens?

The structural and economic obstacles that hinder the right of women and youth policy are numerous: prejudices die hard, general lack of involvement among young people, the imposter syndrome in women … Among the structural challenges there is also, and perhaps above all, reconciling work and family-policy engagement. In particular, the time required for networking, gateways to political life, fails to women and youth. On the economic level, the cynicism disadvantage commitment “in a context of devaluation of politics, few people have the habit of going into politics,” says the president of the elected Montérégie East Network (Remme) .

Yet what better from political disavowal that “democratize” the bodies ensuring gender and generational representation?

“Hundreds of cracks in the glass ceiling” 3

Faced with this disenchantment, municipalities are mobilizing. The twinning program set up in 2010 by the FQM and renewed in 2011, was a great success: “17 young Quebec regions were matched with 17 elected at the Congress, a unique opportunity for them to see the action municipal in its finest “advance Cloutier. The project, a partnership with the Coordinating Committee for the Regional Youth Forums Quebec , will continue until the next elections in 2013. The adviser FQM also welcomed the reactivation of the partnership table Young and municipal democracy, under the Ministry of municipal Affairs, Regions and land occupancy. “This means that the Ministry and partners recognize the importance of the challenge of the municipal generation,” he concluded.

The GFPD, he defies gloom by focusing on “education for citizenship and democratic outreach to women to get involved in decision-making,” explains its director. The organization trains women to prepare the candidate course then elected, and at all levels: “In 2004, we organized our first school is a four-day training at the rate of twelve hours day for aspiring candidates. ” Among the topics covered: the organization of a municipal election campaign, public communication, budget, etc. With demand high, a partnership was established with the National School of Public Administration (ENAP) to provide four schools per year, allowing a hundred women to have access to this training. In 2009, among the participants, 71 were candidates in municipal elections, 12 of them were elected to the mayor and 27 councilors of positions.

“Once elected, there are still difficulties, particularly if a woman is alone” regret Esther Lapointe. However, they are not so alone as that, thanks to the mobilization of many women across Quebec, which launch actions to stimulate female candidates and women network. The Remme is one of these platforms, which joined the elected territory. For fourteen years, he provides training and organizes an annual symposium. Keeping women in politics remains a major challenge: “In the third year, women still have the same question: do I represent myself? It’s very demanding for them. It therefore offers training and time exchanges with elected tested, “advance the president, Mrs. Bisson. Visible results for the region? Bromont has a predominantly female board since the 2009 elections!

The efforts of these organizations will continue through 2013 and beyond. By then, the awareness of political leaders and society must become a priority to shatter glass ceilings in the future, hopefully close enough.