Path set for Canadian women to match U.S. political gains

The new U.S. Congress will have more women than ever before. A Canadian organization is releasing a new toolkit that hopes to see similar gains here next year.

More women than ever before were elected in this week's U.S. midterms

Nancy Peckford, executive director of Equal Voice, has been working to encourage more women to run for office and was recently elected mayor of a municipality south of Ottawa. (CBC)

Women in America had a historic night this week, with more of them winning seats in the U.S. Congress than ever before.

A Canadian organization is releasing a new toolkit that hopes to see similar gains here next year.

Equal Voice, an organization dedicated to seeing more women run for office, released the toolkit at an event Wednesday evening.

They have also created an automated Facebook messaging bot that can help guide prospective politicians to the resources they need.

Nancy Peckford, the group's executive director, was recently elected mayor of North Grenville.

She said there are encouraging signs all the time, but women still aren't well represented at the federal level.    

"In the last election, there were 97 federal ridings without a woman on the ballot from one of the major three parties," she said on CBC's All In A Day Wednesday.

"There has been an uptick in the overall percentage of women running, but federally there is no doubt that you don't see the same number of women on the ballot."

Nancy Peckford is the executive director of Equal Voice. She's also the Mayor of North Grenville. 11:04

The new chatbot named "Evie" works with Facebook Messenger and can answer questions about where and how to run.

"Once it knows where you are located in the country and what you are looking to do in terms of making change in your community, it will invite you to a really customized playlist of resources and opportunities," said Peckford.

Making the leap

Equal Voice also interviewed several female MPs to get their advice.

"Overwhelmingly what we heard is seize the moment, don't underestimate yourself, build a great team and look around you to find allies and mentors across party lines," said Peckford.

"There really is no time like the present."

She said women often don't realize they have the skills for political office.

"They are not connecting the dots to how impactful their contribution can be in the political space."  

Peckford said she struggled with the decision herself.  

"I did a lot of equivocation. It took me a really long time to make the decision," she said.

"Going for it is the single best piece of advice I can give."