Women in politics: 'You can't win if you don't run'

They make up half of the city's population but only a quarter of its politicians. Now one group is trying to get women to make up half of the candidates in the next municipal election.

Women make up 26 per cent of city councillors, short of the group's 50% goal

Shawna Lewkowitz is the founder of Women and Politics in London, Ont. The group is pushing to have 50 per cent female candidates in the October 2018 municipal election. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

A London advocacy group is pushing for women to make up half of the candidates on the ballot of next year's municipal election. 

In the last civic election, women made up 23 per cent of candidates, and now make up 26 per cent of city council. 

"We know that when women run, they win in equal numbers to men. But if you don't run, you can't win. If we want 50 per cent to win, we need 50 per cent to run," said Shawna Lewkowitz, the founder of Women and Politics, the group behind the local campaign. 

The UN has set a target of 30 per cent female representation on elected bodies. 

"We can push past that number. We want Londoners to be looking at women and letting her know they support her and asking her to run," Lewkowitz said. "This will take a community effort." 

Women and Politics has put together a series of workshops for women interested in running for municipal office. 

The group is also trying to get more diversity on council. A recent survey of city-run boards and commissions found women representatives are whiter, older and richer than the average London woman. 

"We need diversity. We're looking for LGBTQ women, trans women, older women, women of colour, women with disabilities," Lewkowitz said.

The campaign is called "50% for London" and comes on the heels of another campaign the group ran, which encouraged people to ask women they knew to run for office. 

The municipal election is in October 2018. 

Listen to Shawna Lewkowitz's interview on London Morning here. 


Kate Dubinski


Kate Dubinski is a radio and digital reporter with CBC News in London, Ont. You can email her at