"Peach paper" outlines women's concerns on City governance - Concerned with lack of public input, group takes pro-active approach

    OTTAWA, June 20 /CNW Telbec/ - City Council's "corporate visioning"
process received a gender-lens analysis today with the release of a "peach
paper" on municipal governance by the City for All Women Initiative (CAWI).
    "We have come together, women from diverse communities, community
organizations and academia, to write this paper because we are concerned that
there has been minimal opportunity for citizen input in City Council
prioritizing sessions," said Lisa D'Addese, CAWI Women's Action Team. "This is
in contrast to the Ottawa 2020 process, where hundreds of citizens helped to
define the priorities for our city."
    Recent polls have found that a full 85% of Canadians would feel better
about government decision-making if government regularly sought informed input
from average citizens. However, only 20% felt that the number of engagement
exercises on public policy is sufficient.
    "We are concerned that decisions about the direction of our city are
being made in this corporate visioning process that will influence how
decisions are made, social services are provided and how they are financed.
This will affect every resident, so the process should reflect that,"
Sandy Onyalo, Executive Director, Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre said.
    Ms Onyalo, urged Council to study the CAWI paper closely.
    "We ask that Council consider our peach paper's criteria when making
decisions on city's governance structures," Caroline Andrew, Centre of
Governance, University of Ottawa.
    "Not all processes are created equal - an online survey can be convenient
but not everyone has access. Citizen advisory committees, properly
facilitated, can be effective. Focus groups can be exclusionary if the full
diversity of women is not represented."
    CAWI produced its peach paper at the initial suggestion of Mayor Larry
O'Brien. The paper:

    - Outlines the importance of including the full diversity of women in
      City decision-making;
    - Develops criteria necessary for more inclusive decision-making; and,
    - Applies minimum standards to citizen engagement mechanisms.

    The paper stresses that to be accountable and transparent in its
governance, the City needs to commit to equitable access to decision-making,
sufficient resources, and effective, on-going and consistent processes -
regardless of what consultation methods it chooses to use.

    City for All Women Initiative (CAWI) is a partnership between women from
diverse communities, community organizations, academics and the City of
Ottawa. CAWI's aim is to strengthen the capacity of the full diversity of
women and the City of Ottawa to work in partnership so as to create a more
inclusive city and promote gender equality.

For further information:

For further information: Rashida Collins, cell (613) 889-2433

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