Municipal Elections Are More Important Than We Think
Last month, municipalities across British Columbia (BC) held elections for mayoral, councillor, and school board trustee positions. Every four years, residents from each of the 162 municipalities in BC vote for city councillors that are responsible for passing bylaws, budget planning and approval, committee, board and commission appointments, and general oversight of municipal administration - all of which impact every day lives of millions. However, municipalities are often overlooked in the pursuit of a better world for everyone.
In deep recognition of the importance of local governance and democratic engagement at the municipal level, the grassroots organization Women Transforming Cities had big, equity-centred plans for this year's elections. For today’s piece of #JustGoodNews, we’re highlighting the organization’s impressive Hot Pink Paper Campaign and the driving forces behind its success!
As always, stay tuned for the end of this story for ways to show some love.
Women Transforming Cities
Women Transforming Cities (WTC) is a grassroots community of self-identifying women that organize around important issues at the municipal level.
The word transformation is key. WTC leads an action-packed mission of “Transforming the places we live so everyone can belong”. Social, economic, and political equity for all is the impetus for this transformation. WTC grounds its pursuit of equity in a concept afforded by Black legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw known as “intersectionality”, which is a framework for understanding how several aspects of one’s identity - gender, race, sexuality, class, location, ability, and many more - overlap to create a unique set of challenges and privileges for each individual. Intersectionality rejects a one-size-fits-all approach to meeting each person’s unique needs and prescribes the dismantling of all systems of oppression including colonialism, White supremacy and racism, patriarchy, capitalism and many more. For WTC, civic transformation cannot be achieved without utilizing equity and an intersectional lens.
WTC’s approach is not just indicative of who it serves, but also mentioned who they collaborate with:
“We work with equity-deserving genders, including women, girls, trans, genderqueer, non-binary, Two-Spirit, LGBTQIA++ and allies. We are committed to continuing to learn and evolve our understanding, language, and actions around gender inclusion.” — Women Transforming Cities
A full glossary of WTC’s terms for referral can be found here.
Hot Pink Paper Campaign
All of WTC’s initiatives involve collaborating with equity-deserving genders in practical and non-tokenizing ways. Its Hot Pink Paper Campaign (HPPC) is just one example of how WTC does this. Since 2014, WTC has lobbied for affordable housing, affordable and accessible transportation, climate action, community safety, and many more important areas of justice through the HPPC. These asks reflect community concerns that are shared in a lengthy and robust consultation process with “women, gender-diverse residents, and front-line organizations that serve diverse communities”. WTC articulates these into a survey of policy asks for candidates prior to the election, which then eventually becomes mandates that supportive elected representatives are accountable to, This year, meaningful collaboration among WTC and marginalized members of the community led to the production of the following eight policy ask:
- An Equity Lens on Councillor Motions
- IWG2S+ People’s Healing Lodge
- Reducing Barriers to Affordable Housing
- Protecting Tenants from Heat Waves
- Alternative Models to Community Safety
- Washrooms for All
- Fully Fund Climate Emergency Responses
- Affordable and Accessible Transit
How effective is the HPPC?
WTC’s most recent blog post on its 2022 impact summarizes the exciting wins that have come from the HPPC this year:
- Engaged over 600 women and gender-marginalized people across Vancouver to understand what issues in this election cycle were critical to them
- Collaborated with almost 30 community organizations, half of whom endorsed our policy asks
- Reached over 120,000 people who viewed our candidate commitment card & 1,000 people who downloaded our policy brief pdf
- Motivated 54 candidates from the 10 major parties to complete our survey
- Convinced 65% of candidates to publicly agree to implement all eight of our policy asks if elected
- Had our policy asks included in 8 out of 10 of the major municipal party platforms, including verbatim language by ABC
- Influenced Spinal Cord Injury BC to run their own version of the HPPC provincially on accessibility issues and Inclusion BC to run their own version as well
This outstanding list of wins is a real-life example of the tangible change that we see when marginalized and underrepresented people are given the platform and resources for their voices to be heard. Read up on what else is included in WTC’s 2022 impact summary here.
Show Some Love
We hope this piece of #JustGoodNews puts a smile on your face and gives you the hope we know a lot of us to need! Here are a few ways to show this WTC story some love.
Become a Member and Volunteer
WTC relies on the important work of volunteers in meeting its goals. Show some love by volunteering with WTC as a self-identifying woman through roles in communications and social media support, partnerships and outreach, or research! Click here to fill out a volunteer form
*Volunteers must be a WTC member. Membership starts at $10/year. Learn more here.
Show some love to this volunteer-led organization by making a one-time or recurring donation!
Tell your friends or family about this story and/or share the link on your social media channels! Be sure to tag MeaningfulWork and Women Transforming Cities and include the hashtag #JustGoodNews so both organizations can engage!