by Jarrah Hodge
Since last year I’ve had the honour of being part of the City of Vancouver’s Women’s Advisory Committee. The committee is made up of 16 fabulous women from diverse backgrounds who come together out of a commitment to women’s equality, to making sure gender is mainstreamed in municipal policy, and to improving women’s engagement in civic life.
Each month we meet and provide input to the City of Vancouver on a range of issues from the Transportation 2020 report and bike sharing to recruiting and retaining women firefighters and following up on the Missing Women’s Inquiry’s recommendations to the VPD.
This year for International Women’s Day our committee put on a brown-bag lunch for city staff. Hoping to help the City as it moves forward with developing its digital strategy, the committee asked me to give a talk on gender and digital engagement. I talked fairly broadly about the benefits and challenges for women engaging online, particularly highlighting concerns about online harassment. I was really impressed by questions that came up in the Q&A, for example on how we engage diverse communities such as people of colour who don’t feel comfortable being in a session just for their ethnic group.
I don’t have great solutions for this but fundamentally I think it comes down to having many different paths of engagement – options for people who feel more comfortable in groups where others share their background and for those who want to participate in a larger session. I also think online engagement can’t replace in-person engagement because some people will always feel more comfortable coming in that way. If any readers know of success stories and best practices in this area, please share and I will pass it back on to the City.
Anyway, here is the written speech I was working off of, along with links to some of the reports I referenced: Read more