The City of Chestermere continued to break down barriers’ women face who want to participate in the political arena through the Daring Leadership Women, Politics, and Showing Up workshop on Jan. 29.
The workshop was made possible through partnerships with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund, Rocky View Immigrant Services and the Rotary Club of Chestermere.
“The workshop followed the initial series we had presented where we asked women what barriers they encountered when running for politics,” said the City of Chestermere’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategist Joanne Kinya Baker.
“It went really, really well,” she added. “We received tremendous positive feedback from women in the community.”
Throughout the evening, participants were able to address the barriers women face, such as fears that keep women from running for politics, work-life balance, childcare needs, lack of confidence, and the fear of making mistakes.
“At this workshop, women learned the skill of how to dare greatly, and how to be a brave leader in the political arena,” Kinya Baker said.
Women participating in the workshop also discussed how they were fearful of being seen as emotional when making decisions.
“It is a big fear that women have, they are trying to step up in a very male-dominated world and are often seen as being emotional. There is a balance of needing to be tough and acting tough so people will pay attention,” Kinya Baker said.
The Daring Leadership workshop also dug deep into finding a confident voice for women and being OK with being vulnerable.
“Vulnerability and shame for a long time have been seen as things that actually prevent women from getting ahead,” Kinya Baker said.
“We know that vulnerability is a great thing, we can speak from a place of vulnerability and not feel ashamed,” she added.
The workshop was modeled around Brene Brown’s work on leadership and daring as a leader.
“The whole point of providing this project is to build women’s capacity to become leaders in the political arena,” Kinya Baker said.
Although the workshop was in seminar-style, it was very interactive where women were able to talk about their core values, and the power of vulnerability.
“The women had an amazing time working in pairs and figuring out what their core values are,” Kinya Baker added. “Our core values will then feed into our leadership styles.”
The Daring Leadership workshop was broken down into four pillars including rumbling with vulnerability, living your values, braving trust, and learning to rise when something goes wrong.
Women discussed a moment where they felt vulnerable, how they dealt with it, their values, and using trust as a leader.
“The first value exercise that people participated in, assisted them in discovering how they can bring that into their work as leaders and as politicians,” Kinya Baker said.
“The women in this workshop were able to figure out their vulnerability and values and how to tie all of those things in together to be a daring and a great leader,” she said.
Adding, “This exercise helped us realize that the qualities of a person we admire and how we describe them are actually our values as well.”
It was determined through the workshop that women wanted to learn how to communicate better, how to be more time-efficient, and remove the personal bias around equal treatment.
Kinya Baker is hopeful that residents understand that once the barriers are removed, women can fully and whole heartily participate in politics.
“Studies have shown that when women are in leadership, productivity and revenue increases dramatically in an organization,” Kinya Baker said.
When women are in leadership, and they feel like they are represented in the community, they come out and participate in more events and activities because their interests are being addressed.
“I’m hoping that women can get together and realize that them being involved in the political arena will actually stir the interest of other women in the community who have all of these things they would like to share but haven’t found a platform for it,” Kinya Baker said.
“I’m also hoping that women will have their skills honed, this workshop was very skills-based,” she said.
Adding, “Confidence was another big issue that was addressed. By the end of this series, I’m hoping we have begun to inspire confidence in the women in the community who want to run for politics.”
Moving forward, Kinya Baker is excited to engage women with an immigrant background in politics on social media platforms, and the upcoming women’s conference in the spring.
“It’s one thing to get all of the women together in a group, but it’s another to make sure that we’re representative of all of the women in the community,” Kinya Baker said.
Without the support of the community, the Rotary Club of Chestermere who sponsored the food supplied, the Calgary Food Link who supplemented the food, and city councillors, the workshop wouldn’t have been possible.
“We have some really great support from our city councillors. It was really amazing. This is a vulnerable place to be. As a councillor they’re out there showing what some of their vulnerabilities are, that made them so much more admirable,” Kinya Baker said.
She added, “The fact that women can see their city councillors participating in a project like this to empower other women in the community goes against what we believe about how women don’t support each other in general. It was really powerful.”
Kinya Baker encourages residents to keep a lookout for upcoming Engaging Women in Municipal Politics city events.
“If there are any questions or specific topics women feel need to be addressed, I’m very open to having a discussion and making sure all of the women in the community due diligence,” Kinya Baker said.