This evening I attended a meeting on Gender and Municipal Governance, hosted by COPE Council Candidate (and former City Councillor) Ellen Woodsworth.
Municipal governments such as Council and Park Board can apply "lenses" to make sure that certain segments of the population are being adequately served and represented by their municipal government. The "lens" can be applied to women, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, people with little or no income, and so on.
What a "lens" means is that when Council or Park Board are making decisions, they want to make sure that the interests of all of Vancouver’s population are being served, and not just the dominant group.
Questions that can be asked are:
Are services and facilities accessible to women? Ethnic minority groups? People with Disabilities? People with Low Income? Accessibility can then be broken down further. For example, if the lens is a "gender lens", we can ask if women feel safe going to a park or using a recreation facility. We can ask if there are barriers such as the need for child care so the women can have their children looked after while they take part in community centre programs. If the lens is an ethnicity lens, we can ask if people from different cultures feel comfortable using the facility and if the programs offered include programs that they would like to take. If the lens is for people with disabilities, we can ask if the facility or park is physically accessible and if suitable programs are offered. If the lens is an income lens, we can ask if the facilities and programs are affordable, and if facilities and parks are close to where people live so travel costs aren’t a barrier.
"Lenses" are meant to be inclusive – if we are truly serving all of Vancouver’s people, we need to make sure that people aren’t being left out.