- Initiative wins Campaign of the Year, honoured in Dublin, Ireland
- Organization intends to continue post 2018 election
- Survey of 93 female candidates provides roadmap for future focus
Saint John, NB – December 7, 2018 – The New Brunswick initiative known as Women for 50% has earned global recognition for its public awareness campaign leading up to the fall 2018 provincial election. At an awards show in Dublin, Ireland this week, Women for 50% received honours from the North American Excellence Awards, a competition that recognizes the most outstanding achievements in the field of communications. Women for 50% took home the top prize as the winner in the small-budget Campaign of the Year, alongside other category winners and industry giants like AT&T, IBM, Fujifilm, and American Express. A panel of industry leaders judged the elements of the Women for 50% campaign and recognized the creative design and professional communications strength of three Saint John firms for their work over the last two years – GlassSKY, Janice Brown Design, and Innovatia.
Roxanne Fairweather, Co-Chair of Women for 50% and Co-CEO of Innovatia, said, “We are absolutely thrilled with this global recognition. Women in politics is a topic that resonates broadly, and this award reinforces that we’ve got a valuable story to tell about our journey to create public awareness for women in politics in New Brunswick. We look forward to sharing our insights with groups in other geographies who are interested in getting more women elected to office. While our organization has made excellent progress, our work is not done.”
Launched in January 2017, Women for 50% was founded to address New Brunswick’s lack of female representation in the provincial legislature – a position that lagged the country with just 16% elected female representatives in a province where women make up 50% of the population.
Women for 50% was founded with three objectives:
- To create mass awareness about the lack of female representation in the legislature and the benefits of greater gender diversity;
- To offer education and support for women to learn about the political process and run;
- To begin to build a more sustainable infrastructure in the province for women to enter politics over the long term.
Political parties were encouraged to embrace a target of 50% female candidates in the September 24th election. With the generous support of Honourary Patron Dr. Richard Currie and other donors, Women for 50% hosted a series of educational events, offered candidate mentoring, compiled educational toolkits for candidates, organized petitions and lobbied for change to political party financing. Ultimately, 11 women were elected, up from 8 in 2014; 93 women ran in the election, up from 71 in 2014, and total votes cast for women candidates jumped 30% to more than 114,000.
Women for 50% Executive Director, Norma Dubé, said there are many lessons to be learned that will contribute to the group’s future shape. “The focus for Women for 50% will be determined largely by the input from the female candidates who ran. We recently conducted a wide-ranging survey and are now in the process of analyzing the results. We’ll be listening closely to what has been said and will focus our energies in one or two very specific areas that emerge as critical to get more women into office.”
The 50-question survey was offered to all 93 female candidates via email, in both official languages. It closed last Friday, November 30, 2018. The group is now beginning an in-depth analysis, but did however offer some early highlights:
- Participation was excellent at 55%, which is high given rates commonly seen in the industry, and it reflected input from all six parties
- 80% said the climate of the 2018 election was encouraging for women to run, and 67% said it was stronger than in previous provincial elections
- 72% said they expect to run in the next provincial election
Candidates were asked multiple choice as well as open-ended questions on a wide-range of topics, including why they ran, what advice they would offer other female candidates, and what specific support they need to get elected. They were also asked what issues they consider most pressing for the province as well as their views on the importance of voting with their party versus collaborating across party lines. Full survey findings will be published in the New Year once the analysis has been completed.
North American Excellence Awards – Saint John Firms Recognized
The North American Excellence Awards were created to honour the most outstanding achievements of communications professionals in their field. The Awards are part of a global implementation of Excellence Awards, also rolled out in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Europe. A panel of industry leaders assessed the creative design and professional communications elements of the Women for 50% campaign, which was designed, executed and donated in-kind by three New Brunswick firms – GlassSKY, Janice Brown Design, and Innovatia. The awards recognize work in various categories, with Women for 50% receiving top honours in the small-budget Campaign of the Year category, alongside agency giants like Fleishman Hillard, Weber Shandwick, and Edelman. The Awards are hosted by Communication Director, an internationally-focused magazine for corporate communications, PR and public affairs.
Women for 50%
Launched in January 2017, Women for 50% is as a non-partisan initiative founded by 12 New Brunswick women who came together from all different backgrounds to push for greater female representation in the provincial Legislature. Women for 50% challenged political parties to embrace a goal of running 50% female candidates in the September 24, 2018 election. Women for 50% launched a public tracker for the four main political parties in the spring of 2017. NDP exceeded target at 51%, Green Party improved substantially at 49%, Liberal party had its best showing ever at 40%, Progressive Conservative Party stayed the same at 29%. Combined, the four established political parties ran 42% women (vs target of 50%). Including the two new parties that emerged in the election – the People’s Alliance and KISS – the total was 38.6 per cent — an increase from 32.2 per cent in 2014. In 2018, 11 women were elected, up from 8 in 2014; 93 women ran in the election, up from 71 in 2014, and total votes cast for women candidates jumped 30% to more than 114,000.