Collingwood will be part of a project to support women in local government in Ghana

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has paired Collingwood and Halton Region for peer-to-peer support work to improve opportunities for women to contribute to local governments in Ghana

Collingwood staff and politicians have been selected to join a six-year, multi-million dollar national project to help more women get involved in the leadership of government in Ghana, Africa.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has selected the Town of Collingwood to be part of its Municipal Innovation Partnerships program, specifically the Women in Local Leadership project.

The overall objective of the project is to increase the capacity of women to engage in local governance in their country and to develop the capacity of local government to provide inclusive and gender-sensitive services. The project will work with local government associations in Benin, Cambodia, Ghana, Sri Lanka and Zambia, and the city of Collingwood, as well as the region of Halton, have been commissioned to work with the associations in Ghana.

Fine details of the work are yet to be ironed out, but the project will support “capacity development, outreach, outreach and engagement activities in the five countries, as well as at regional and global levels,” according to a statement. Press. statement issued by the municipality.

Collingwood councilor Kathy Jeffery is a board director for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and was previously part of a similar project in Jordan, which aimed to improve opportunities for women in government leadership and public participation, as well as helping to improve the condition of local municipalities. solid waste management.

Jeffery said the program provides peer-to-peer support and the elements of engagement and action are determined in consultation with local government associations and participating Canadian municipalities.

In Jordan, the project ends with the creation of a learning institute for women.

“A learning opportunity [through the institute] could include speakers and mentors available to help build the capacity of women to run for government,” Jeffery said. “It also provides a way to develop something that would stay there and be sustainable once the project is complete.”

The Jordan Municipal Support Program is the only municipal development program of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in the Middle East.

During his years on the board of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Jeffery saw reports of other projects that were closed in Peru and Colombia, where more municipal development was happening through support among peers between Canadian and local municipalities.

“Some of these programs have involved over 100 Canadian municipalities in a five-year contract to help develop what they’re working on,” Jeffery told CollingwoodToday.

She said she is not sure what type of activities Collingwood staff will be involved in for the project in Ghana as the work is still in the early stages of planning and outreach, but she looks forward to the upcoming work.

“The City of Collingwood’s nomination…is a tremendous honor and an extremely proud moment for our city,” Jeffery said in a press release.

According to preliminary reports she received through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, less than 10% of mayors in Ghana are women, and less than 15% of mayors and regional leaders (similar to the Canadian MP ) gathered are women.

Many senior positions in government are appointed, not elected.

“We have to respect the fact that all countries are at a different stage on the parity continuum for women in leadership positions,” Jeffery said. “We recognize that we have been through what Ghana is going through now.”

Some of the peer-to-peer support options could involve women in Ghana watching Canadian women run for municipal office in the upcoming elections, or asking Canadian municipal staff to explain how each city has updated or adopted new policies to encourage gender parity in the city. Hall.

“It’s really important to share our learning…being able to use our expertise to help other countries and help women around the world have equal voice in government is hugely important,” Jeffery said. “And there’s mutual learning, you get a lot more out of it than you put into it.”

Over six years, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities estimates the total cost of the project for the five countries combined at $27.61 million. Of this amount, $26 million will come from Global Affairs Canada, which covers project-related expenses.

The City of Collingwood and other participating municipalities would contribute staff time, but no money to the budget. Travel costs for city staff, if traveling to Ghana, would be covered by Global Affairs Canada.

In September 2021, Collingwood Council voted to support the town’s request to be considered for future Federation of Canadian Municipalities international projects, provided they align with Collingwood’s community strategic plan.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities was formed in 1901 and includes members from over 2,000 Canadian municipalities, representing over 90% of Canadians.

To learn more about the city’s participation in the Women in Local Leadership Project, click here.