Women Winning Office

Women Winning Office

An Activist’s Guide to Getting Elected

By Peggy Nash

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When Peggy Nash first decided to run for elected office, she had no idea where to start, who to contact, or what the rules were. For those who are underrepresented in political life, politics can seem like a secret society designed to shut them out.

Women Winning Office is a practical handbook for activist women on how to open doors and take their place in the political process. Find out how to build a team, get nominated, inspire volunteers, and canvass voters. Nash draws on her experience in five federal campaigns, as well as the stories of many inspiring Canadian women who have run for office at all levels of government. Some succeeded; some did not. Some faced difficult and painful experiences. Every one of them would do it again.

To make real progressive change, we need to change not only who gets elected in Canada, but how our democracy functions. If you want to find out how to take your desire for a better world into elected office, this book is for you.

Praise

Women Winning Office is a tremendous resource that all women with an interest in politics should check out, no matter your background or level of experience. Whether you’re interested in running or supporting someone who wants to run, it’s a must-read. I only wish that when my political interest was sparked decades ago, I’d had this book at my fingertips.”

– Paulette Senior, CEO and president, Canadian Women’s Foundation

“This book is a highly accessible comment on women’s leadership, power, and social change in a society fraught with inequalities. Nash cleverly balances political critique with personal optimism for all groups of women in Canada.”

– Dr. Pamela Sugiman, dean of the Faculty of Arts, Toronto Metropolitan University

“On the left, we are not very good at taking stock and writing down our collective knowledge. Peggy Nash makes sure to buck this trend in Women Winning Office. For anyone who is considering getting into electoral politics but doesn’t know where to start, this book is for you.”

– Nora Loreto, author of Spin Doctors: How Media and Politicians Misdiagnosed the COVID-19 Pandemic

“In this highly accessible and mobilizing guide, Peggy Nash peppers detailed instructions, tips, and guidance with the stories of women from all backgrounds and lived experiences that have run and served in office. The most powerful part of reading the book was that I have witnessed Nash do the work: she reaches out to women, she lends support, she mentors and sponsors, she encourages women to run. She has shown a lifelong commitment to supporting racialized, Black, and Indigenous women in politics and activism. She is a striking example of what it means not only to ask women to run, but to stand beside them.”

– Dr. Tanya (Toni) De Mello, human rights lawyer, equity, diversity, and inclusion expert and trainer

“Nash offers us an intimate portrayal of how she parlayed her own passions and activism into a successful political career. Jam-packed with strategies and practical suggestions for how to run a winning campaign, the book is interwoven with personal stories and words of advice from many women activists, politicians, and academics. Nash’s voice is the one whispering in your ear: ‘Be the change you want to see.’”

– Tracey Raney, professor, department of politics and public administration, Toronto Metropolitan University

“Peggy Nash charts the important path from activism to elected office. This is a road map for women everywhere to get involved, get elected, and make positive change happen. Chock full of both inspiration and practical advice, it’s a vital addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in fighting injustice and changing things for the better.”

– Kathleen Monk, communications and campaign strategist, Monk + Associates

“Essential reading for women considering running for office, and for anyone who has wondered what it takes to run for office. Nash has gathered wisdom from diverse women in elected office, as well as women with decades of experience in organizing, to gift us this practical guidebook.”

– Bhutila Karpoche, MPP, Parkdale–High Park

“I have nothing but praise for this book. It demystifies everything about running, from initial considerations to the election to the day after. It will be a valuable reference for anyone considering running for elected office, and it is my hope that it will support more women and people from groups historically shut out of power who are thinking about putting their name on a ballot. As Nash writes: we want you to run.”

– Megan Leslie, former deputy leader of the NDP

“Peggy Nash is a working-class feminist hero, an inspiration for me and so many other women in politics. I wish this book had existed when I ran for office, and I’m delighted that the next generation of activist women candidates will have access to this invaluable guide.”

– Leah Gazan, Member of Parliament, Winnipeg Centre

Contents

Introduction: This Book Is for You
Part 1. Who Gets to Lead?
1. Why Me? Why You?
2. Women at the Table: Space Invaders
3. Power Protects Itself
Part 2. You Are Formidable: Your Superpower
4. When Change Is Your Only Option
5. Activism in Movements or Electoral Politics, or Both
Part 3. Beginning Your Campaign
6. When Is Your Time?
7. Party or No Party?
8. Choosing Where to Run
9. Winning the Nomination
10. Building Your Team
11. Volunteers
12. Local Strategy, SWOT, and Target Voters
13. Preparing the Ground and Building Your Profile
14. Fundraising
Part 4. Getting Your Story Out
15. Public Narrative—Your Story Is Your Power
16. Public Speaking and Speech Writing
17. Social Media
18. Traditional and Other Media
19. Eyes Wide Open
20. Holding the Community Close to Fight Racism
21. Dealing with Negative Voices
Part 5. Campaigning
22. Tight Organization and Dedicated Volunteers
23. Being the Best You
24. Identifying Supporters—The Point of the Campaign
25. Canvassing
26. Building Momentum
27. Debating
28. Taking Care of Yourself
Part 6. The Election
29. Ensuring Voters Vote
30. Election Night
31. The Day After
Part 7. Afterwords: One Piece of Advice
32. Lead Like a Woman and Be the Change You Want
33. One Piece of Advice
Appendix
Twenty Questions to Ask Yourself If You Are Thinking of Running for Elected Office
Index