Toolkit to Support Women in Leadership

This toolkit explores how municipalities across Canada can work to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the gendered leadership gap.

Additional information




North America

Location: Ottawa, Canada

Organization: Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM)

About the Wise Practice

Women remain under-represented at all levels of political leadership in this country. As of 2015, women represented 26% of Members of Parliament, 26% of Members of Provincial Parliament, and 26% of municipal leaders. For Indigenous, racialized, and immigrant women, leadership opportunities remain even scarcer.
Systemic barriers, stereotypes, and biases are among the barriers to women’s participation in municipal government.

The toolkit strives to support local government in learning about intersectional gender tools that municipalities use to advance gender equality and equity. The toolkit also strives to highlight the benefits of having women across all diversities elected in equal numbers. By providing insight into the systemic barriers faced by women candidates and elected officials, we hope this toolkit will encourage local government to increase support for women leaders.


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).


Outcome mapping, which is designed, implemented, and evaluated using participatory and collaborative approaches, is an effective and empowering method of evaluation. The outcome mapping methodology helped develop a gender equity and diversity action plan for two of Diverse Voices’ participating municipalities, Halifax Regional Municipality and the City of Montréal. A workshop was conducted in each respective municipality, involving community and municipal actors to develop a roadmap towards greater leadership from women from diverse communities in municipal governance. The roadmap addressed many of the barriers to women’s civic engagement that were identified throughout the project.


The toolkit outlines a number of sample indicators to monitor progress over time, such as the number/percentage of recommendations from Gender and Diversity Audit addressed. 

Lessons Learned

Because every municipality is unique, there is no “one-size-fits-all” strategy to fix the gender gap. However, as this report has shown, there are a variety of approaches that can be considered.

These include, but are not limited to:
• examining stereotypes and biases;
• mentoring and sponsoring women to build up confidence and knowledge;
• offering flexible schedules;
• building inclusion for women across all diverse backgrounds that includes but is not limited to Indigenous, racialized, immigrant, low-income, young women, older women, LGBTQ2 women, and women with disabilities;
• ensuring laws and policies protect pregnant women and new mothers against discrimination;
• strengthening leave policies;
• offering gender and diversity training;
• closing pay equity wage gaps;
• exploring practices on gender mainstreaming and gender-based budgeting; and
• ensuring work environments are free from gender-based violence, harassment, sexism, racism, and discrimination.

Resources and More Information

Diverse Voices: Tools and Practices to Support all Women


Updated: July 29, 2022