More women, in all their diversity, running for elected office.That’s the point of Votes for Women, a new guide produced by theNova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women. The advisorycouncil launched the guide today, May 17, at Province House inHalifax. “If women are not at the table, their experiences andperspectives may be missed,” said Carolyn Bolivar-Getson,Minister responsible for the Status of Women. “We must seizeopportunities to be active in decision making about legislation,policy and programs.” She said that decisions about foreign policy, economicdevelopment, sustainable communities, health care and family law,among other areas, directly affect women and their families. Yetwomen are not fully represented in the decision-making process. The guide was developed to help women who are interested inpolitics get involved in the process so that they can influencethose decisions. It contains tips on fundraising, campaigning anddealing with the media. It is one avenue the advisory council has taken to increasewomen’s participation in politics. The council has also hostedsix workshops on women’s political involvement in communitiesacross the province during the past two years. This fall, theywill hold a non-partisan campaign school for women. Women now have some influence in legislative and policy decisionsin Nova Scotia. Six women were elected to the House of Assemblyin the 2003 election, more than at any other time in thisprovince. However, that figure represents only 12 per cent of theseats. A critical mass — at least 33 per cent — is needed to ensurethat women’s perspectives are adequately represented, and halfthe seats should be held by women to achieve full politicalequality. Women’s political involvement in Nova Scotia has grown slowly. Itbegan with Gladys Porter, a former town councillor in Kentville,who became the first woman in the province to win a seat in thelegislature in 1960. Since then, the number of women winningprovincial seats has fluctuated from election to election. More women campaigned for seats in 1999 than in 2003, when morewomen won seats. The guide is available by calling the Advisory Council on theStatus of Women toll-free at 1-800-565-8662. It will also beavailable on the website, www.gov.ns.ca/staw , beginning on May18.