Interview with Elena Pierce, Governance, Policy and Networks Advisor at FCM: Applying a Gender Perspective to DLG

For the special gender edition of the DeLoG Newsletter on the occasion of International Women's Day, partner organisations of the network shared their experiences working on DLG with a gender perspective. In this interview, Governance, Policy & Networks Advisor Elena Pierce highlights the importance of the Gender-DLG nexus to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' (FCM) work.

Why do gender-related topics matter to you?

Ever since I was a child, I was encouraged to see myself as a valuable contributor to my community. This gave me the confidence to run for municipal office at 23 years of age. I have carried these beliefs and passion for community into my work at FCM over the last 16 years.

Why is the nexus of Gender and DLG relevant to FCM in Canada?

FCM has been committed to increasing gender equality through its domestic and international programming for over 20 years. It was through FCM’s engagement in international cooperation programming that it developed a capacity to deliver high-quality domestic programming. Programs have supported women to assume leadership roles, including elected office, and promoting gender equality approaches into all facets of local government work. FCM’s members have also advocated for recognition of gender equality in policies and programs at the local level by working with provinces and territories on topics such as childcare while also developing gender equality strategies and taking an intersectional lens to local policies and in the functioning of council.

According to your personal experience, what can institutions and authorities do to integrate gender perspectives into local governance systems?

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to surface the important role of local and regional governments in creating more inclusive communities. Local governments and their associations have a role to play in addressing these issues by creating an enabling environment where gender equality principles and practices are applied in the programs and policies offered at the local level. For example, local governments can support various projects and activities related to enhancing the economic security of women, create an enabling environment to increasing democratic participation amongst women as well as increasing the number of women in leadership roles, and preventing and responding to gender-based violence. Further, local institutions can apply an intersectional lens to capital projects, such as infrastructure projects, where the infrastructure is built to ensure it is usable by all citizens no matter their abilities. Further, local governments need to consider gender approaches and impacts of their local climate action initiatives.

Why should DeLoG as a network enhance its focus on the nexus of Gender and DLG in the future?

DeLoG has a role to play in ensuring decentralization and programming to the local level is occurring and that there is a focus on gender equality. The network can work toward a collective understanding of gender equality with the goal of more effective international cooperation. Further, network members should initiate discussions with local governments on the monitoring and evaluation of programs to ensure that disaggregated data collected is appropriate for determining if initiatives are achieving equitable outcomes.  Finally, local governments need to be at the table to contribute their perspectives on decentralization and be recognized as equal partners in the decisions that impact the future generations.