There are many options when it comes to policy and issues that relate to Winnipeg in the upcoming municipal election, but when it comes to representation, the options are somewhat less. The number of male candidates running is more than four times the number of female ones.
Bryanna Spina, who is running her first political campaign, is one of just nine women running for council, compared to 43 men.
“There are concerns but I think it’s overpowered by the fact that I want to model positive behaviour and be a role model for other women,” Spina told Global News.
Spina, a yoga instructor, said she wants to contribute more to her community, which is the reason you’ll see her name on the ballot this October. She said she’s not concerned with the number of male candidates, especially in her ward of Fort Rouge – East Fort Garry.
“The last person who held this position was a woman and I think that speaks volumes,” Spina said.
Outgoing councillor Jenny Gerbasi represented the Fort Rouge -East Fort Garry ward for 20 years, having first been elected in 1998.
As she prepares to step away from civic politics at the end of her fifth term, Gerbasi points out the current council is comprised of 25 per cent woman – the most she’s ever seen.
She noted a number of reasons that might stop women from running for office, including the belief that municipal politics is typically seen as ‘male territory.’
“We’re taking some important steps,” Gerbasi said. “I think things are improving and I think that’s important to send a message to potential candidates.”
Gerbasi announced she would not be seeking re-election in March, and said she is leaving politics to take on new adventures.
Political scientist Shannon Sampert said there are historically a low number of female candidates, particularly in municipal politics.
The reason, she said, is because there is not as much support at the municipal level as there is at the provincial and federal levels, where there is a party system in place.
“40 years ago we said, ‘we’ll be at 50 per cent in 40 years,'” Sampert said. “We’re still saying, ‘we’ll be at 50 percent in 40 years.'”
WATCH: Jenny Gerbasi reflects on her time in office