City has High Percentage of Women Councillors

Cockburn Deputy Mayor Carol Reeve-Fowkes flanked by city staff Margot Tobin and Sam Seymour-Eyles.                     d439411
Cockburn Deputy Mayor Carol Reeve-Fowkes flanked by city staff Margot Tobin and Sam Seymour-Eyles. d439411

THE City of Cockburn, Town of Cambridge and City of Perth had the highest percentage of women elected to council between 1999 and 2013.

But women overall are still severely under-represented across Perth metropolitan councils, according to a report released last week.

In figures revealed in the Committee for Perth and University of WA’s latest FACTBase report, 52.6 per cent of Cambridge councillors voted in during the eight elections between 1999 and 2013 were women. In Perth it was 47.2 per cent and Cockburn 46.7 per cent.

The City of Fremantle (17.5 per cent), City of Swan (20.7 per cent), City of Stirling (23.6 per cent) and City of Canning (25.8 per cent) had the lowest percentage of female representation on their councils.

Women generally were more successful at winning a seat than men, making up 29.7 per cent of candidates but winning 32.7 per cent of the positions in 2013.

Committee for Perth chief executive Marion Fulker said there appeared a simple solution to getting a more even share of males and females on metropolitan councils: get more women to stand in local government elections.

“But this is easier said than done because there are clearly a number of barriers that still need to be overcome,” she said.

Cockburn’s deputy Mayor Carol Reeve-Fowkes says the dedication needed to run on council is not for everyone.

“It can be difficult juggling the home-work-family balance,” she said.

“I think the major reason why fewer women run for council is females do recognise the amount of time and dedication required.

“If you are lucky enough to be elected, you will literally live and breathe council for the next four years.

“The role requires serious dedication and commitment, not all women are at that point in their lives where they can dedicate the time needed.”

Former Mandurah City councillor and Australian Local Government Women’s Association of WA founder Marion Blair said there should be more women on council.

But she conceded the big commitment that may not work for everyone.

“Thirty-two, 33 per cent is too low, especially when women make up 51 per cent of the population,” she said.

“That may not be for everyone, but women have a huge role to play and a different way of looking at things that is important.”