Since 2005 UBCM has participated in international projects that support local government development through missions in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Cambodia. With direction from UBCM Executive, UBCM is currently partnered with the Cambodian National League of Councils on a project to support women in local leadership. The program aims to support more women to get involved in local governance, as well as local governments' capacity to deliver inclusive, gender-responsive services.
The National League of Councils (NLC) is leading an advocacy campaign to encourage political parties to put more women on the ballot. Local politicians are currently elected based on a proportional representation model. Female candidates are generally not at the top of the candidate list, which means less women make it into political office. The NLC campaign is working to encourage parties to put more women in the top positions on the candidate list.
At the same time, they are working to provide training opportunities for women interested in politics and local leadership so they can build up the number of qualified candidates. Training includes leadership, communications, member outreach, advocacy and governance. Earlier this year, past president Jen Ford and UBCM’s director of advocacy, Jared Wright, traveled to Cambodia for in-person training with NLC staff and elected leaders. Their training covered things like how to engage and communicate with membership, advocating with senior orders of government, and learnings from how UBMC operates as an organization. Ford also shared her experience and some lessons learned as a female elected official.
This fall, Cambodian delegates visited UBCM in person for a study tour. Ford and current president Trish Mandewo shared their experiences in local government leadership. Local Government Leadership Academy president (and past UBCM president) Laurey-Anne Roodenburg presented on the work of the LGLA, along with executive coordinator Gabi Vindisch. UBCM senior policy analyst Marylyn Chiang gave a presentation on the Beyond Balance: Bypassing Barriers workshop held at the 2023 Convention that focused on women in local government.
Another trip to Cambodia is being planned for early 2024.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities coordinates Partnerships for Municipal Innovation – Women in Local Leadership, which is the umbrella for UBCM’s partnership with Cambodian local governments. Funding is provided through the Government of Canada, and UBCM’s costs are predominantly in-kind contributions of time.