March 29, 2017
Fredericton – The New Brunswick Women’s Council welcomes government’s decision to introduce a financial incentive for parties to support women candidates in provincial elections in response to recommendations from the Electoral Reform Commission.
“One of the most significant barriers to women’s participation in elected politics is the party structure,” said council co-chair Jennifer Richard. “We hope that this incentive will help shift parties’ approach to women candidates, resulting in a higher number of women both running and elected.”
Currently, political parties receive public funding according to the proportion of votes their candidates received in the previous provincial election. Under the incentive, votes received by women will be weighted at 1.5 times those received by men in funding calculations.
“With the incentive tied to number of votes received, parties will be discouraged from making empty gestures such as of running women as token candidates in ridings that aren’t competitive,” said council executive director Beth Lyons. “We hope the incentive won’t just push parties to run women – it will push them to run women competitively.”
The council is also advising government that further action will be required to address the issue of women’s underrepresentation in politics.
“Getting more women into politics, getting gender equality on the political agenda, and having a legislative assembly that includes more women are complex and critical issues that cannot be addressed by one tactic alone,” said council co-chair Jody Dallaire. “In addition to measures like the gender-based incentive, electoral reform must also be considered as we know that, around the globe, the parliamentary and legislative bodies with the highest number of women are those using some form of proportional representation.”
In addition to the gender-based incentive, government has committed to other initiatives recommended by the Electoral Reform Commission. The council has advised government on ways in which these initiatives could also further women’s equality. These include:
- That the civics course/module to be introduced into the public education system include discussion of institutional and attitudinal barriers that limit participation in politics by women and other groups that have historically been excluded from decision-making tables.
- That the annual update on the state of democracy in New Brunswick include gender-based benchmarks, such as those recommended by the Commission.
- That the draft code of conduct for members of the legislative assembly be developed and reviewed using gender-based analysis.
The New Brunswick Women’s Council is an independent public advisory body on women’s equality issues.
Media contact: Beth Lyons, Executive Director, New Brunswick Women’s Council
[email protected] Tel. 506-462-5142