She Governs: Participating in Municipal Leadership

She Governs: Participating in Municipal Leadership

By: Amy X. '25

It was not until the past few months that I actually realized how inspiring and enlightening female leaders and young women can be.

The night that Eileen Gu, the 18-year-old female freeskier made herself a shining star in Winter Olympic history by accomplishing one of the hardest moves that no female skier had done before (the 1620 in Big Air during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics) undoubtedly she had the most powerful effect on me. She said she wants to inspire all young girls and that no limitation should be set in default because of their gender identity as young women.

I was astonished into silence as I  realized the broad possibilities and opportunities out there laying wide open for me, I could be that inspiration for generations of younger women, and that was when the opportunity for municipal leadership, “She Governs” appeared. In my mind this was a perfect chance to prove my capability and brightness of mind as a female student.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek and local female councillors emerged in my sight, and as I gradually acknowledged their difficulties, obstacles, efforts, and excellence in leadership, it  carried over to my determination to become one of the 15 student councillors selected in the “She Governs” event. I feel ignited in a sense, and I feel that in the future I can be as excellent and as influential as they are right now. Those outstanding female leaders are role models for the young women of our generation. They complete and fulfill their roles as councillors in the City Hall, serving for the betterment of Calgary, and meeting with them to ask questions alongside the opportunities to learn, has been highly beneficial to my exploration of the responsibilities of a political career. It has brought me a broader and more palpable perspective of politics  to experience the daily conference and life of a councillor from the chamber.


“She Governs” is an event organized by the City of Calgary and Equal Voice Calgary that selects 15 Grade 9-12 students who identify as young women to participate in a mock council meeting as the mayor and the councillors from the 14 wards of Calgary. The mayor attends so that students thoroughly experience what it is like to be an elected official in the conference of council, with the chance to debate a motion regarding street harassment in Calgary, provide amendments and vote for a bylaw to pass.

The week before the scheduled council meeting, as the councillor representing Ward 13, I received three material packages sent from the City Clerk for preparation of the motion and acknowledgement of the bylaw, and the agenda of the conference. What is memorable to me still is that when I first opened those packages, I found a solid agenda of 37 pages, a procedure bylaw of 50 pages, and another information package, which was  a daunting experience. Learning how complicated the administrative bylaw and agendas were, I spent half of my weekend reviewing the materials, reading the bylaws, researching for statistics and further information for debate, and watching a real council meeting on the exact same topic, addressing street harassment. I must admit how frustrating and confusing that process was, to understand the complex wordings and the formal vocabularies, and preparing to be able to debate to the fullest of my abilities. As I dug deeper into the context, the beauty of politics appeared to me as I got familiar with the progress and the responsibilities of a councillor.

Monday, March 7th, was the scheduled council meeting. Although I endured technical difficulties, Mr. Sabio and Ms. O’Neill worked together with me during the conference, I sincerely and genuinely appreciate their support.

Even though I was internally extremely nervous regarding my performance in debate, I eventually found the councillor conference not as I thought it would be, but an opportunity to meet with  bright-minded and sophisticated girls in Calgary, for more opinions and perspectives.

Each and every one of us delivered our own speech, though there were still some mistakes made due to our inexperience, and we voted as true council members would, in support or against the motion. The greatest portion of this event was not only the observation and practice of our knowledge of politics and council conferences, but also the chance to be a listener to all those excellent speakers with well-crafted ideas, speeches, and amendments to the motion, different from the video of actual council meetings, but still a precious experience to embrace.

“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work.”[1]

Equal representation of women in politics is immensely important because it proves that us women can chat about love and children but also economy, and even the future, to further the development of service to all citizens that in typical stereotypes only men are capable of discussing. Breaking the shackles from conventional public stereotypes and discrimination has started small, but through the effort and endeavor of all women, including Mayor Gondek, the very first female mayor in Calgary’s history, her fellow female councillors, and others fighting for equal rights and representation of female leaders in but not limited to politics. I believe women shall and without a doubt, rise for equality and speak up for themselves without concern for their gender.

I strive to be one of those leaders.


[1] Quote from American poet Adrienne Rich