Extraordinary young women take control of Council Chambers
Participating in the Mock Council was a great experience and I'm glad the City chose a complex topic for us to debate as it enabled us to discuss subjects like reconciliation, housing affordability, sustainability, and support for local businesses.
‘Councillor’ Catalina De Castro
Vancouver City Council had a new look on Tuesday evening when the next generation of civic leaders took over to tackle a real staff report.
A Mock Council meeting was staged to mark the culmination of the Women4Politics program through which 11 young women have been mentored by current Council members.
As many of the real City Councillors watched on, their replacements for the night received a presentation from staff regarding the Northeast False Creek Plan for Cultural Redress, conducted an in-depth debate on the topic, and tabled several amendments before voting unanimously in favour of the report.
“Participating in the Mock Council was a great experience and I'm glad the City chose a complex topic for us to debate as it enabled us to discuss subjects like reconciliation, housing affordability, sustainability, and support for local businesses. I was particularly excited to bring forward an amendment asking for the NEFC Plan to implement an intersectional gender lens so that any issues can be tackled with diverse gender needs in mind,” said ‘Councillor’ Catalina De Castro. “Women4Politics has definitely helped solidify my interest in municipal politics. Mayor Stewart joked that our next step would be running in elections; maybe I'll take him up on that!”
Life as an elected official
Through their three-month mentorships, the current members of Council provided their mentees with an introduction into life as an elected official, including meeting with staff to discuss motions, attending cultural events, and getting to attend the keynote speech at the Union of BC Municipalities Annual Conference.
Councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung, who mentored Catalina, described the value of the program when she said: “This has been a rewarding experience for Council too as we’ve had the chance to see politics through the eyes of someone new and hopefully we also inspired these women as they have us. It’s great to be encouraging the next generation of female community leaders as 52% of our population is women and it’s really important that they are represented and reflected in our elected bodies.”
While Vancouver has a predominantly female council, women are still very much in the minority in terms of political representation across Canada. The Women4Politics program aimed to give young women a chance to be involved in local politics.
In their applications the selected candidates demonstrated their passion for a number of local issues that Vancouver is facing including reconciliation, sustainability, housing, and the overdose crisis.
The Women4Politics mentees come from wide and varied backgrounds, and represent the diversity and intersectionality found in our city. The group includes women who have overcome hardship, come to Canada as immigrants, and women who have given a lot to their community.
Women4Politics was part of a wider program of work by the City to mark Women Deliver, the world’s largest conference on gender equality and the health, rights and wellbeing of girls and women, which took place in Vancouver from June 3-6, 2019.