Equal Voice Alberta launches workshops to recruit more women into politics

Equal Voice Alberta is urging more women to run in the 2019 Alberta provincial election.

Campaign 101 Workshop aimed at demystifying the nomination process

More than 40 women took part in Equal Voice Alberta's She Leads Campaign 101 Workshop on Saturday, aimed at getting more women to run for office in the 2019 provincial election. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Equal Voice Alberta is urging more women to run in the 2019 Alberta provincial election.

The group launched their She Leads Campaign 101 Workshops on Saturday with a panel discussion that drew more than 40 attendees.

Organizer Jenessa Crognali says the first session was about learning to navigate the nomination process — one of the first steps toward getting elected.

"We decided to make our first Campaign 101 Workshop focused on demystifying that process so that women who aren't already involved with a party or who might not have those connections are able to get the information they need," she said.

Participant Lauren Montgomery says the ins and outs of the nomination process was worth learning about.

"There's a lot to a nomination, there's a lot to an election, there's a lot to selling memberships and those are all really important pieces, just like going door-to-door," she said. "There's a lot to that interaction with the everyday person."

Montgomery said it was also worthwhile hearing Stephanie McLean, minister for the status of women offer her input during the discussion.

Lauren Montgomery said demystifying the nomination process was worth learning about. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

McLean said although strides have been made in recent years in terms of getting more women to run for office, events like these are still necessary.

"I think we have a lot to change in society in a broader way before we are finding ourselves in a position where we no longer need to intentionally recruit women and to find ourselves in a place where women don't need to be asked to run, but they put their hands up," McLean said. 

Now an advisor and consultant, Diana McQueen spent 25 years in politics — serving as Alberta's minister of energy, environment and municipal affairs under the Progressive Conservatives — and says campaigns like this are important for developing strong social and professional connections, which are key to getting elected.   

Minister for the Status of Women and Service Alberta Stephanie McLean says she looks forward to the day when women feel comfortable enough to enter politics without having to be recruited. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

"More and more people want to see more women involved. I think people understand the balance, you need to have both men and women, and when you have more women involved as well, it just makes it better for discussion," McQueen said.

"I think what's exciting about this is so many young women that are here and wanting to run for office. For us who have been there or are there, to be able to support and mentor, I had so many great women mentors … I think that's what we need, to give back and be there for them."

Crognali says the campaign will be hosting similar sessions in the future.

Two websites offer more information on the She Leads campaign, one covering northern Alberta and another covering southern Alberta.

With files from Terri Trembath