Calgary women in power empower young leaders

Calgary’s council chambers looked a little different Friday morning, as young women were given the opportunity to sit in the city’s top political seats. Jillian Code has the story.

By Jillian Code

Calgary’s Council Chambers looked slightly different Friday morning during women in politics event, as it hosted 20 young women from local high schools.

The young women got the chance to sit in the seats of leadership and hold a mock council meeting.

“They show young girls, young females, that they have the ability to go somewhere, to be in those positions of power,” said Grade 11 student Nicole Sun.

“At the beginning, you could kind of tell it was a little bit tense,” said Brooke Negash who’s also in Grade 11. “The first speaker would come up and none of us asked any questions, really. And then by the end of it, we were all just going back and forth at each other.”

The topic of debate was about single-use plastics, where the young leaders discussed how to incentivize businesses and shoppers to opt for multi-use options, and if the government would help fund the transition.

Councillor Kourtney Penner said she was impressed by the students.

“I’m not sure who brought forward the medical supplies and how we address single-use plastics in other industries. … I thought it was really smart to be thinking broader,” Penner said.

The women in politics event perhaps hold a bit more meaning this year, as the province’s two front runners for the spring elections are both women.

Calgary’s Mayor Jyoto Gondek is also a woman, which is a first for the city.

“When we saw the applications, a lot of them were motivated by the fact that we have the first woman as Mayor of the City of Calgary, woman of colour as well. And we also — Alberta is doing pretty good in terms of representation on the provincial level,” said Dhuha Nader, chair, Equal Voice Calgary.

The students have also learned to stand their ground and be empowered.

“Owning it, standing your ground. Especially when you’re someone of a marginalized community—you know, I’m here for a reason,” said Negash.

“It’s a really powerful thing and it encourages and empowers female leaders to go and pursue those positions of power,” Sun added.

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