“While we may be individually strong, we are collectively powerful.” – Rakhi Voria
A healthy community is a diverse community with opportunities for all.
In 2006, 2007 and 2008 Warman and area experienced a momentous shift in leadership. The election of female leaders to all three levels of government – me as Mayor of Warman in 2006, Nancy Heppner as MLA in 2007, and Kelly Block as MP in 2008 – was historic. The voices around the table shifted to better represent 50.4% of the population: women.
When I was newly elected as Mayor of Warman, I was extremely excited to work with both MP Block and MP Heppner. The three of us shared a passion and determination to build, strengthen and pursue new opportunities for the communities we proudly represent. Throughout the years, my excitement for working with these two women has only grown. We’ve proudly accomplished a lot for the citizens we represent.
Recently, MLA Heppner announced she will not be seeking re-election in 2020. She has served her constituents well, and I know firsthand how hard she has worked to ensure the communities she represents are not getting left behind and that provincial dollars are being dedicated to our regional projects. It is not always an easy role to fulfill, because the needs are many and the dollars don’t cover these never-ending needs. MLA Heppner has lobbied ardently about critical issues, such as the overcrowding of our schools and the safety of highways leading into our communities, resulting in additional schools opening and the construction of highway overpasses. The issue of sustainable pricing for water is essential for her constituents, and MLA Heppner has been instrumental in working with SaskWater to ensure communities in her region have access to affordable potable water.
The City of Warman is constantly growing and evolving, and requires strong representation. Fortunately, we have received that from both MLA Heppner and MP Block. Our sincere thanks and appreciation for all the efforts these women do on Warman’s behalf.
Both MP Block and MLA Heppner have been strong advocates for gender balance in leadership. Following their examples and with their mentorship, I’ve been able to further pursue my own passion for supporting women in all types of leadership positions. Did you know that an average of 26% of Canadian municipal politicians are women? In Saskatchewan, the numbers are considerably lower, with women making up 18% of councillors and only 13% of mayors. Next week, I will be attending the annual SUMA convention, which will feature a “Women in the Game” panel discussion. I am looking forward to the conversation about women’s involvement in local government during this panel. I am hopeful it will spark encouragement for more women to become involved in their communities at a leadership level.
That is my call to action for all women: get out there, become involved and lead your community. Look for ways you can express your voice. It is more important than ever to encourage and support women to run for public office. We need women in all roles of leadership, in all levels of government. We need women on our municipal councils, on school boards and governance boards. There are many ways women can take an active role in their community. I believe with good mentors and ambassadors, gender imbalance can be overcome. When the demographics of elected positions mirror that of society, a country's full social capital is realized. Diverse representation creates a better environment for both women and men.
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” – Brené Brown