Advocacy group celebrates as 20 women enter Calgary election race

An organization created to encourage 20 women to run in Calgary's next election is celebrating having reached that goal.

More than 100 men have declared their intent to run for council this fall

Only two women sit on Calgary city council. This year, more than 100 men and 20 women have declared interest in running for a seat in the fall. (City of Calgary)

An organization created to get more women in politics has hit a milestone.

The Ask Her campaign aimed to have 20 women run in Calgary's municipal election in October. Now, they've reached that goal.

Candidates aren't officially running yet — nominations close Sept. 18 — but many have registered their intent to start fundraising as election candidates.

That list includes more than 100 men.

'Different rhetoric'

Blair Berdusco, a candidate for Ward 4, says the enthusiasm of the Ask Her organizers prompted her join the race.

She has worked on political campaigns yet never saw herself running. She had seen what she calls "a different rhetoric towards women" while on those campaign trails. 

"Just having people outside of my friends and family who were supportive of the idea really shifted that thinking for me," she told the Calgary Eyeopener this week.

Across Canada, representation in all levels of government has come under scrutiny.

At the highest level, only a quarter of the federal Parliament seats are filled by women, despite women making up half the population.

Changes conversations

In the past few years, women have reported sexist comments, misogyny and barriers to political involvement — affecting some women more than others.

"Diversity in any form is a great thing for boards, councils, committees," Berdusco said.

"There are studies out there which have shown that having women on councils and committees actually elevates the conversation and it changes the conversations to be a bit more in depth, to be more all-encompassing."

​Out of 15 members of Calgary council, only two are women.

Having hit the 20 women candidate mark, Ask Her is turning its attention to supporting those candidates — and helping them win.

Ask her is offering to make equal financial donations to the campaigns of female-identified candidates. In order to be eligible, candidates must apply by Sept. 8.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener