The Nova Scotia municipal elections have wrapped up over the weekend, and some municipalities have shown a commitment to gender parity.
In fact, 11 towns in Nova Scotia have elected or acclaimed women as mayor.
- Cape Breton Regional Municipality: Amanda McDougall
- Yarmouth: Pamela Mood
- Lunenburg: Carolyn Bolivar-Getson
- Colchester: Christine Blair
- Kentville: Sandra Snow
- New Glasgow: Nancy Dicks
- Queen’s Municipality: Darlene Norman
- Annapolis Royal: Amery Boyer
- Antigonish: Laurie Boucher
- Port Hawkesbury: Brenda Chisholm-Beaton
- Wolfville: Wendy Donovan
Cape Breton’s McDougall is the first woman to serve as mayor in the region.
The Halifax Regional Municipality had several big wins as more women were elected to the 16-member council than ever before.
Half of the regional council seats will be filled by women in this term, including Cathy Deagle Gammon, Becky Kent, Trish Purdy, Kathryn Morse, Pam Lovelace, Patty Cuttell, Lisa Blackburn and Iona Stoddard.
Stoddard is the first Black woman, and first woman of colour, to be elected to HRM council since amalgamation in 1996.
She told Global News on Monday that having eight women on board is going to be “a good look” for council.
Stoddard, who says she has a financial and provincial justice background, ran in the 2016 municipal election, but didn’t get enough votes that time around.
She says she believes there was a lot more focus on needing women, and women of colour, in politics in the 2020 election.
“Just the fact that there’s going to be more diversity on council, I think that’s going to make a statement for Halifax,” Stoddard said.
Grace Evans, an expert on gender parity in Nova Scotia politics, says it’s “exciting” to see a gender-balanced council in Halifax.
“We need people at the decision-making table to reflect our communities. I think it’s great,” Evans says.
Evans says she believes people are starting to realize what an impact the municipal government can have on things like property tax and policing, that impact everyday life.
“I think more women decided now is the time to come forward, now is the time to bring our voices to the table.”
Evans is also the author of a forthcoming book, On Their Shoulders: The Women Who Paved the Way in NS Politics, that tells the stories of all 50 female MLAs in Nova Scotia’s history.
She says gender parity has been a long-standing issue for politics in the province.
Whether it be child-care responsibilities, social media harassment over physical appearance or familial status, Evans says women are often discouraged from participating.
“I commend all the women that put that aside and still decided to run, and I hope the don’t face those barriers in the same way with the new council,” Evans says.
She says she hopes the new council produces outcomes that encourage people from diverse backgrounds to participate.
“It will maybe carry over into provincial and federal elections and people will be more inclined to put their name on the ballot, and vote.”