By Angela Dorizas
Local government’s campaign to increase the representation of women in senior levels of the sector is gaining momentum, with some already proclaiming the Year of Women in Local Government (YoWiLG) campaign to be a huge success.
Women currently account for fewer than 30 per cent of councillors, 20 per cent of senior managers and 5 per cent of CEOs in local government.
In declaring 2010 the Year of Women in Local Government, Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA) and the Australian Local Government Women’s Association hope to challenge those statistics.
Outgoing LGMA national president, Neil Hartley, said 110 councils were already involved as partners in the campaign.
“We’ve raised $100,000 from local governments across the nation to helping with that program,” Mr Harley said.
“The program is going to be a great boost for women into the future.”
Chair of the YoWiLG national steering committee, Ray Pincombe, said the campaign had generated an overwhelming amount of activity at the grassroots level.
“It’s just amazing how many programs have been put in place by these councils,” he told Government News.
“They are really focusing on gender equity issues in their councils and they’re the people who are going to make the difference.”
Mr Pincombe said other levels of government were backing the cause.
“The state and federal governments have bought into it, the Local Government and Planning Ministers’ Council have really promoted the Year of Women in Local Government and we’ve got good funds from the Federal Government to do more ongoing programs.”
Mr Pincombe said an increase in women’s participation in local government would help address myriad challenges facing the sector, including the skills shortage and an ageing workforce.
“The Year of Women in Local Government 2010 provides an opportunity for local government to show some real leadership, to actually create an innovative workforce that will help drive the change it needs over the next 20 years.”
Despite concerns within the sector that the number of women in CEO and general manager positions is unlikely to change anytime soon, Mr Pincombe remains confident that local government will see progress.
“I’m not as pessimistic as those people,” he said.
“I think the momentum is just starting to build and by the end of this year there will be a changing mindset in a lot of people.”
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