April 28, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Six female students from King’s Social Justice and Peace Studies program have learned first-hand what it’s like to be a female politician. The Municipal Government Mentorship Program paired six students, Kayley MacGregor, Floranda Agroam, Natalie Garrison, Emaan Ali, Kaya LeBlanc and Jamie VanVleet with London City Councilors Anna Hopkins, Tanya Park, Virginia Ridley, Maureen Cassidy and City of London staffer Kate Graham.

The four-month program allowed the students “to feel confident and build relationships that encourage more women to enter politics,” says Dr. Allyson Larkin. Dr. Larkin oversaw the program which provided King’s students with skills in media relations, committee work, community events and city council procedures.

“The program has given me incredible insight into the lives of women in the municipal political system, and more of an understanding of what work is yet to be done to increase the representation of women,” says Kayley Macgregor. Her classmate, Emaan Ali, agrees adding “"the King's Municipal Government Internship was an opportunity for me to gain relevant political experience and build relationships within the London community. While it was a valuable learning experience on a personal level, it set precedence for other young women to engage in the political realm." 

The program was also a learning opportunity for the city councillors who say they were inspired by the young mentees. "I enjoyed being a part of the mentoring program this session. It was great to work with Natalie, and see her learn and grow through the process.  We enjoyed getting to know each other, and learn how much we had in common. Additionally, having Natalie help to advance the application of the Gender Lens as outlined in council’s strategic plan was a huge accomplishment in our time together,” says Virginia Ridley, Councillor for Ward 10 and mentor to Natalie Garrison.

Dr. Larkin plans to expand the program to an eight-month long internship for the 2016-17 academic year with the support of Dr. Jacquetta Newman, professor in the Political Science department at King’s. Mentees will be able to adjust their school timetables to fit in City Council meetings and other important learning opportunities. To apply please email alarkin2@uwo.ca. To learn more about studying Social Justice and Peace Studies at King’s click here.