Women in Politics

Women in Politics

It’s a thing! It’s a new thing!

First, men set up the laws. Then, eventually, women got the right to vote. But not all at once! And not all of us do, either! It depends on the state and country in which you live. In Switzerland, women got the right to vote in 1971! They didn’t get it all at once. Some of Switzerland allowed women to vote in 1971. It took till 1991 for the  Swiss  Federal Supreme Court to force the hand of Appenzell Canton (at the border of Austria and Germany) to allow women to vote. 1991! This is not a typo!

In the U.S., starting with Wyoming in 1869, and that’s even before Wyoming became a U.S. state in 1890, and ending with all the states granting the right to vote to women with the addition of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, in 1920. At this point, in 2018, the U.S. has had about 100 years of women voting.

We are at the peak of female representation and female involvement in politics, but that doesn’t say much. So, how many women are in office? Any political office? What are the current statistics? Answer: The statistics are sad! But let’s explore the situation. You know, FACTS! Let’s look at some representative states, as there is an even spread under these representative states.

Female political representation at the State level falls somewhere between a 2:1 ratio in Vermont, and 8:1 ratio, in Wyoming. The spread is fairly even across all U.S. States. We’re not singling out the states mentioned.

Female Representation across the branches of Government

Let’s start at the top.

U.S. Presidency
Out of 45 Presidents, there have been no women. This is the most powerful position in the country and a massive influence in the world. This is where they VETO the laws and issue Executive Orders that supersede the Senate and the House. So, that’s 0%
U.S. Senate
100 Senators, 22 are women. That’s 22% of the Senate. That’s where they ratify the laws. We’re 50% of the nation. We’re represented at 22%.
U.S. House of Representatives
535 Representatives, 106 are women. That’s 19.8% of the Congress. That’s where they start creating the laws!  We’re 50% of the nation. We’re represented at 19.8%.
U.S. Supreme Court
9 judges, 3 are women. That’s 33% of the Supreme Court. That’s where the battles that protect our rights take place.
We’re 50% of the nation. We’re represented at 33.3%.
Governors
50 Governors, 6 are women. That’s 12%, but we’re 50% of the population.
Lt. Governors
43 Lt. Governors, 12 are women. That’s 28%, but we’re 50% of the population.
Other State Officials
219 States officials, 53 are women. That’s 24%, but we’re still 50% of the population.
STATE LEGISLATORS
States Senators
1,972 Senators, 446 are women. That’s 22.6%, but we’re 50% of the population.
House Assembly
5,411 Representatives, 1,425 are women. That’s 26.3%, but we’re 50% of the population.
LOCAL
Mayorships
Cities over 30,000     –  286 out of 1,362 seats. 21%, but we’re 50% of the population.
100 Largest Cities     – 20 out of 100 seats. 20%, but we’re 50% of the population.

Out of the 22.43% of women that are representing us, here are some the notable women, some amazing role models to inspire you to get into politics and into law. We cannot show you all of the valiant women fighting for our rights across all the government branches, but we would like to mention a few. If your interest is sparked and would like to participate in this fight for our lives, keep reading and we’ll show you how to get into politics yourself.

 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Supreme Court Justice
The notorious #RBG! Her honor, the Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
She successfully fought against gender discrimination and unified the liberal block of the Supreme Court. She’s been fighting for your rights since she was appointed in August 1993.

“The state controlling a woman would mean denying her full autonomy and full equality.”

 

 

Sen. Tina Smith – U.S. Senate, Minnesota
One notable fact is how she was nominated for the Senate seat. In the wake of sexual misconduct allegations brought against Senator Al Franken, he, as a supreme act of rebellion against the current leadership, nominated the Lt. Governor Tina Smith to replace him. The important aspect of her candidacy is that, while she was a Lt. Governor, she worked on legislation where the wealthiest two percent would pay their fair share of taxes which resulted in lower income taxes for everyone else in the state. She’s has fought for reproductive rights both at the state and national level.

“[Planned Parenthood] It is an organization that is deeply trusted to be there for women, men and families when it’s needed, and that’s something I’m very proud of.”

 

 

Congresswoman Maxine Waters – 43rd District, CA
Congresswoman Maxine Waters is considered by many to be one of the most powerful women in American politics today. She has gained a reputation as a fearless and outspoken advocate for women, children, people of color and the poor.

“You cannot be successful and continue to be a victim.”

“Black women are going to have to take more leadership. I think we are prepared because we bring a tenaciousness with us. We do not fear losing friends, allies, or jobs.

 

 

Sen. Nancy Pelosi – U.S. Senate, California
Pelosi is the first woman, the first Californian, and the first Italian-American to lead a major party in Congress. After the Democrats took control of the House in 2007, Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House for the 110th and 111th Congresses.
On November 17, 2010, Pelosi was elected as the Democratic Leader by House Democrats and therefore the Minority Leader in the Republican-controlled House for the 112th Congress.[2]

“Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance.”

 

 

Sen. Kamala Harris – U.S. Senate, California
In 2017, Kamala D. Harris was sworn in as a United States Senator for California, the second African-American woman and first South Asian-American senator in history. She serves on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committee on the Judiciary, and the Committee on the Budget.

“What’s important for my daughter to know is that… if you are fortunate to have opportunity, it is your duty to make sure other people have those opportunities as well.”

 

Del. Danica Roem –  House of Representatives, Virginia
Openly transgender, a former journalist, she unseated a long-serving socially conservative Republican. Why this matters? Because she’s the first transgender person to ever serve in a state legislature! So, it does matter!

“No matter what you look like, where you come from, how you worship or who you love, if you have good public policy ideas, if you’re qualified for office, you have every right to bring your ideas to the table.”

 

How do we remedy the current situation of women in politics?

 

Based on a study by the Brookings Institute, women do not have a more difficult time at winning elections than men do. So let’s stop telling ourselves that we can’t do it, and let’s get to it. The answer to how to remedy the situation is to get more women into politics. Women from every state are running for office in 2018!

Here are a few ways that you, yes, you reading this article, can get involved in politics

 
Emily’sList is an organization that helps pro-choice, Democratic women, running for office. They have helped elect every single Latina, African-American, and Asian-American Democratic congresswoman currently serving in Congress. You want diversity and change? This is your platform. They help raise funds, they help train you to run, and they get you elected!  And you’re going to love their mission statement.

“…EMILY’s List isn’t just about funding elections to get women elected. Our focus is on putting the right pro-choice Democratic women into office who will balance the face of the government, and make decisions that really improve societies across the country…”
– Stephanie Schriock, President

 
VoteRunLead is a non-profit, non-partisan platform that helps train women to run for public office! They will train 30,000 women by 2020. You can select to run, or help other women run. They have in-person training session all through the country. Join them and get yourself into the next political race in your state.
 
The She Should Run platform wants to get 250,000 women into politics by 2030, and we think that that’s a lofty and worthy mission. SheShouldRun trains women on how to run for office, regardless of their political affiliation. Here’s what their mission is:
Because when more women run,
• More women lead: As more and more She Should Run graduates become elected officials, they become role models to girls and young women, help change the culture of women in politics, and amplify the need for gender parity in office.
• More voices will be heard and more challenges met: By encouraging more women to run, She Should Run is building a more effective and representative government that can meet the challenges of the 21st century.

 

 
National Women’s Political Caucus,  a multi-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to increasing women’s participation in the political process. NWPC recruits, trains and supports pro-choice women candidates for elected and appointed offices at all levels of government. In addition to financial donations, the Caucus offers campaign training for candidates and campaign managers, as well as technical assistance and advice. State and local chapters provide support to candidates running at state and local levels by helping raise money and providing crucial hands-on volunteer assistance.

 

 

Here are some of the issues that women are running on:

Family Planning
With a president that ran on a pro-life platform, and a vice-president that is known in his state as a Christian fundamentalist and pro-life politician, and is most recently expressing with confidence that abortions will not be an option in the United States in our lifetime, women are taking notice and they’re running on progressive, pro-choice platforms and they’re getting elected. When healthcare is tied to religion, we’re not advancing, we’re going back to the Dark Ages, and at this rate, we’ll be burning women at the stake for talking about birth control. This is not acceptable!

Education
More and more funding is being cut from the schools, thus negatively affecting our children’s education. And when your child has to move to another school because there are not enough teachers or facilities, you take notice! Add to that, the harder to prove sexual assault rules that deVos put into place for colleges, and women are taking notice!

Health Care
With ACA slowly being defunded with a planned termination of 2019, and CHIP in a dangerous situation as well, healthcare for women and their children, especially for lower socioeconomic status single moms, is in jeopardy under the new administration. It falls on women to take care of an aging parent, and when that funding runs out, what are women to do? Women aren’t blind, so they’re running for office because you cannot take away health care from children and the elderly without impacting women.

Female representation
Like we mentioned above, women are represented in all three branches of Government at an average of 22.43%. Time to improve those numbers and let the issues that matter to women become issues that can be solved, not issues to be swept under a forgotten rug! We are 50% of the population. It’s time for us to be heard.

Erin Vilardi of VoteRunLead.org

 

If you don’t want to run, but still want to get involved, it’s up to you to help these women get voted in.  Amongst them is another hero of mine, Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts. But there are a lot of women that are running for the first time, so let’s help them out, or, how Jerry Maguire said it: “Help me, Help you!”. Let’s help ourselves by helping these women fighting for all our rights. Without them, there won’t be any progress, and we will continue to slide into the New Dark Ages, being brought on again by religion and fear. Let’s not slide deeper down the path of The Handmaid’s Tale’s not quite dystopian future.

2018 is a year of change, and we should make it a year of good changes. Let’s get women into offices, nationwide, and start having the right conversations about the issues that matter to us all, like equal pay, women’s right to choose what she does with her body and pregnancy. Let’s stop penalizing women for having periods, and let’s remove the Pink Tax, especially on tampons and pads and all other feminine products. Let’s get religion out of politics, too! Religion has been keeping women down for way too long. Enough with the demonizing of women. It’s time to let women speak. It’s time for progress. It’s time for all of us to be represented. It’s time for all of us to have a voice. And whatever you do, you go vote!

 

Text: Monica Antohi
Editor: Adrienne Hanard
Article photo: Erin Vilardi – courtesy of VoteRunLead.org
Featured photo by Claire Anderson
Graphics: The Business Magazine for Women
Photo editing by The Business Magazine for Women

 

This article originally appeared in our Spring 18 issue, out March 8th, 2018. To order your copy, click here.