In order to grow your community in all aspects you need to have an active participation

Randy Goulden

Councilor, City of Yorkton
Saskatchewan, Canada

Ms. Goulden, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a city councillor from the City of Yorkton, Saskatchewan. I have been on the City Councilor for 16 years. For most of that time, I have been on the Board of Directors of our provincial organization – Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association. I have also been on the Board of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. I work in tourism and economic development. I have done a great deal of work on marketing and event planning. Besides, I work with the International Film Festival that is held in our city. I am a mother of four children and a grandmother of eight, who have always been the basis of why I do city work.

Why did you decide to enter local government? What influenced your decision to dedicate yourself to public service?

I entered local government because I was involved in many community organizations at the time. Some of them involved my children. I was involved in sports recreation and culture activities. I was engaged in economic development for 26 years: I ran a small business. So I was a small business operator. What I experienced as being a small business operator made me think that the city of Yorkton could do better. So that is what got me into entering local government and what influenced me to become involved.

Do women in Canada face any barriers/obstacles to their active participation in government? If yes, what steps are being taken to tackle this?

Indeed, they do. There are obstacles and barriers both at the local, provincial and national level. Some of them are more evident than others. The major issue is finding a balance between your work life and your family life, as you have a family and you also have a workplace that you have to balance. The other issue I see is getting elected. I think we need to do more around working with women about how to get elected, how to do election campaigns, how to brainstorm your ideas and how politically make them work at that table, how to deal with adversity that you are going to see along the way. You have to understand how you are going to overcome that.

Is it your first visit to Ukraine? How well are you familiar with Ukrainian history, culture, and the current economic and political situation?

This is my second visit to Ukraine. I have Ukrainian heritage, so I am familiar with Ukrainian history and culture. All I know about the current economic and political situation I draw from media. So what I like to do when I come here is to talk to people so that I understand how it affects them at the local level.

What is an inclusive community? In your opinion, what actions need to be taken to build an inclusive community here in Ukraine?

In my opinion, an inclusive community is a community where all residents have the opportunity to participate at all levels. And I think what we can do from the Canadian perspective is to bring some of our success stories, much like what we did in my city around our strategic planning where we involved 50 people that came from all sectors of our community.

Is it important to ensure gender equality in all spheres of public life? And, on the other hand, what is the cost of not doing anything on gender equality?

I think it is important to have active participation from all your residents, including women. And not to have is that you do not have a good understanding of a community’s needs if you do not have women on your local governments. In order to grow your community in all aspects you need to have an active participation. For example, you have got a huge workforce that make up at least half of your population. So you need to ensure that you use your workforce in the best way possible.

At a working meeting of the Association of Ukrainian Cities Committee on Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men this week, you shared the experience of your native Yorkton city in creating a safe and inclusive environment for women. How did your city achieve that? Do you think it can be replicated here in Ukraine?

We brought about a strategic plan that included all sectors of our community, including representatives of all ages and all genders. This put us on the path to identify what gaps we need to look at. Absolutely, it can be replicated in Ukraine. I think it is essential that Ukraine continue to make certain that its plans are inclusive so that they have good participation and that they continue to move forward. What we see in Canada and what we see in Ukraine is limited finances. So in order to make best use of the funds available you need to include everyone.