Increase Women’s Participation in Municipal Decision Making

Increase Women’s Participation in Municipal Decision Making

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  • Location: Ottawa, Canada

    Organization: Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM)

    This resource kit explores numerous strategies to increase womens participation in municipal processes and decision-making.

    About the Wise Practice

    Understanding that there are many ways to strive for gender equality, FCM has provided a preliminary study to identify the barriers, limitations, and challenges to equality at the municipal level. As such, FCM has provided this resource kit to explore ways on how to increase women’s participation within municipalities. 



    Governance & Leadership


    Goal 1: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, ensuring women’s full and effective participation and equal rights in all fields and in leadership at all levels of decision-making (NUA 13c, 90, 148, 155; SDG 5.5, 5.c; CEDAW article 3, 7).


    Women are under-represented in most municipal processes:
    1. The majority of councils surveyed (86%) did not have equal representation of elected women on council. 14% reported having no women on council.
    2. Higher numbers of women participate on Advisory Committees, but women from diverse groups (including visible minorities, disabled, immigrants, other) are very poorly represented.
    3. Women participate at higher levels in municipal consultation processes than as elected officials or committee members, but are still under-represented; diverse groups of women are not well represented.


    The collection of data that is disaggregated or “broken out” by gender/sex is a policy and planning tool that gives visibility to women’s work and contributions. Data is collected separately for both genders and provides accurate information on the differences between women and men, and any inequalities that exist. Statistics and indicators that are gender disaggregated can be used in municipal planning, policy development and evaluation in areas such as budgets, housing, transportation and social services. In addition, gender-disaggregated data is important to ensure that women’s work in the informal or unpaid sectors is included in decision-making processes.

    Lessons Learned

    With the support of Status of Women Canada, the project sought the perspective of municipal governments, women’s organizations, and more than 600 women in six diverse communities across Canada on how to increase women’s participation in local government. This report is the fruit of that project. The project’s success and the enthusiasm it has generated demonstrate how important municipal government is for women. It also indicates the great responsibility municipalities have, as the order of government closest to people, to provide leadership in the areas of inclusiveness and gender equality

    Resources and More Information

    Increasing Women's Participation in Municipal Decision-Making