Brampton forming Women’s Advisory Committee to provide Council with input on key issues
Alexis Wright/The Pointer files

Brampton forming Women’s Advisory Committee to provide Council with input on key issues

The City of Brampton wants to be a “gender-inclusive municipality” with more meaningful participation of women in municipal decision making. 

To help do this a Women’s Advisory Committee will be formed.  

While Brampton has had two female mayors and some female councillors, it is still largely dominated in its municipal representation by men. 

There are currently two women on council out of eleven members. 

The committee would be a resource on matters pertaining to women, according to the draft Terms of Reference which outlines the process to help address the underrepresentation of women in political spaces, where there are systemic barriers in municipal systems. 

The committee will require that at least two of its members be from council and  a staff report therefore recommended Councillors Rowena Santos and Navjit Kaur Brar be appointed. The two councillors requested to amend how the remaining citizen members would be appointed. Santos said during the recent council meeting when the committee was discussed that an amendment should address the fact that the Citizen Appointments Committee, which is normally responsible for interviewing and recommending residents, currently has no women on it. 

A limit of ten people would be on the new committee from “different Equity Deserving Groups,” and who either live in Brampton or operate a business or organization in the city, and once formed will select a Chair and Vice-chair. Council approved the amendment and the committee will be able to move toward recruitment which will now involve the two councillors. 

“It is very important to make sure that we have women on the Board when we are selecting more women to be on the committee,” Councillor Brar said at the February 21 Committee of Council meeting. 


Councillor Navjit Kaur Brar, along with Councillor Rowena Santos, will be members of the Women’s Advisory Committee and will inform the appointment of its members.

(The Pointer Files)


The committee will “consider the unique socioeconomic, political, and cultural barriers that women may face because of public policy mandates,” as stated in the draft Terms of Reference. Its mandate involves promoting women’s full participation in civic and community affairs by ensuring Brampton’s policies, programs and services do not “impose barriers” to participation and effective communication in order to increase awareness of women within the city. It will also seek to confront barriers presented to women and promote the equitable opportunity for them to voice their views by “monitoring the effectiveness of the City policies, programs, and services.”

According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) there is a gender gap in politics at the local level across Canada. “Less than half of elected members on municipal councils” are women, according to the FCM. A recent FCM report on women's representation in municipal politics highlights how women make up 31 percent of all municipal elected representatives in the country (22 percent of municipal mayoral positions and 33 percent of councillor positions). It also states that 16 percent of communities have no women on council. 

The Women’s Advisory Committee will report to Committee of Council and provide recommendations pertaining to gender equity matters related to policies, priorities and decisions and mechanisms to “engage and empower women to fully participate in the political process at the municipal level,” and “promote community leadership development for women in the municipality.” 

Advice and recommendations around gender-based issues involving women will also be a key function, and the committee will also advise on strategies to achieve its objectives. Planning City events and programs for International Women’s Day, as well as advising business units in “responding to gender-based issues and concerns of women when requested to do so by the Chief Administrative Officer,” will also be a mandate of the committee. 


At a February Committee of Council meeting, Councillor Rowena Santos requested an amendment to ensure the people selecting citizen members for the Women’s Advisory Committee are women because the Citizen Appointments Committee does not have any women on it.

(The Pointer Files)


The FCM report highlights how women from diverse backgrounds are especially impacted by systemic barriers like bias, systematic discrimination and exclusionary policies or practices. It states that to address these systemic issues, local governments should “create a space in which women feel empowered and supported in their political participation, and in which more women become involved in decision-making and policy development.”


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