Time women ‘took a stand’

WANGARATTA councillor Rozi Parisotto has joined a push to encourage more women to stand for local government.

At present less than 30 per cent of councillors in Victoria are women, a figure the Victorian Local Governance Association is hoping to increase with its Think Women for Local Government 2012 Project.

It hopes to have women standing in 90 per cent of wards at the October local government elections.

“Five councils have no women representatives at all and 14 — including Mansfield Shire Council in our Hume region — have only one,” Cr Parisotto said.

“My advice is don’t get mad, get elected.

“Put your hand up and have a go.

“A lot of women lack confidence and they think they need to do a course to have the requisite skills, not realising that they already exercise leadership through community and business involvement.

“I say don’t be deterred, councillors are not experts, we’re there to listen and learn and be advocates for our communities.”

Cr Parisotto has served 12 years on the council and is still deciding if she will run again.

“I’m very proud the Rural City of Wangaratta has three women and I hope more put their hand up,” she said.

She said women needed the opportunity to say how their communities should progress in terms of economic development, planning, education and child care.

“It’s fundamental that women stand for council as we bring a different perspective to decision-making and a very important balance in local government.”

Wodonga councillor Anna Speedie agreed.

“We’ve been pretty lucky here in that we’ve been represented by having three women out of the seven councillors the last two councils at least,” she said.

“It’s really important because it’s about being representative of the community.

“Women play a vital role and sitting around the council table we sometimes offer a very different view than sometimes put forward by the men.”

The Victorian Local Governance Association president Cr Samantha Dunn said female candidate numbers actually went down at the 2008 elections and no women stood in a quarter of wards and subdivided municipalities.

“This time around, we’re determined to narrow the gap,” she said.

“Some women doubt they have the skills to do it but many come from a kindergarten or a school committee and those are the things that give you the skills you need.

“I say if you can handle a household, you can handle this.”

Details on the coming elections can be found on the Victorian Electorial Commission website.

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