Seven women have nominated to run in the three new wards, a ratio of one in three.
The current council of nine has only one female member, Lisa Ruffell, who is running for election again in the Whipstick Ward.
She is joined by Jennifer Mitchell-Sharp and Elaine Harrington, the female trio outnumbering the men (current councillor Peter Cox and new candidate James Williams) running in that Ward.
In Lockwood, a trio of women is also running: Elise Chapman, Wendy Radford and Karen Corr. They are just outnumbered in that ward, where three sitting members – Bruce Phillips, Barry Lyons and Rod Fyffe – are joined by Karel Zegers in the race for election.
Eppalock Ward has attracted the largest field, with Helen Leach the sole female up against eight men, including current mayor Alec Sandner and his fellow sitting member Rod Campbell. The other candidates in the nine-strong field are Mark Weragoda, George Flack, Stuart Fraser, Tim Bardsley and Julian Poloniato.
A campaign run by the Victorian Local Governance Association this year highlighted the gender imbalance on local councils.
While the increase in nominations by women was small (from 31 per cent in 2008 to 33 this year), the VLGA was heartened by the fact that there is at least one woman standing for election in every council in Victoria.
“In 2012, almost 80 per cent of wards have at least one woman candidate, up from 75 per cent.
“The barriers preventing women standing for public office are significant but they are not insurmountable,” CEO of the VLGA Maree McPherson said.
“We have clear evidence that ensuring women have information and resources about local government means they will nominate for council.
“If we want to increase women’s participation in local government, we need long-term investment in developing women’s capacity as community leaders and election candidates.”