Getting young women to vote in Coquitlam

Sally Lee and Sarah Khan are with the Young Women Civic Leaders Project (Justice Education Society of BC). - SUBMITTED PHOTO
Sally Lee and Sarah Khan are with the Young Women Civic Leaders Project (Justice Education Society of BC).
— image credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO

An initiative to get young women more interested and involved in local politics has made Coquitlam its first stop on a campaign to promote change at B.C. city halls.

With voter turnout dropping generally and civic voting particularly dismal, especially among youth, the Young Women Civic Leaders project is offering some solutions that could go some way to reversing this trend.

On Monday, two Tri-City representatives of the Status of Women-funded project made their case to council.

They asked city councillors to do more to mentor young women, consult the city's youth council and use a "gender lens" to look at decisions from the point of view of young women when making policy.

"The reason why we focus on gender is because men and women experience the city differently," said Sarah Khan. "We think including a gender lens will enhance the current youth strategy and ensure there is full participation among all young people."

Coquitlam is the first city approached by project volunteers, picked because it's furthest along in the dialogue started 18 months ago by the group operating under the Justice Education Society of BC.

Recommendations are also being developed for Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Burnaby, and Surrey, said project co-ordinator Anastasia Gaisenok. Anmore and Belcarra village councils have also been approached to participate.

Gaisenok said efforts will continue leading up to the Nov. 15 civic elections before the two-year project winds up in December.

The group also has a Facebook page. More about the group's research is available here.

– with files from Gary McKenna


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