It’s time to talk politics.
As the election season is heating up, and the race between Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton is getting tighter, many are rallying behind Hilary Clinton, and behind the idea chance at having the very first female president of the United States.
Although that in itself has caused controversy, with many criticizing the idea that women should vote for Hilary simply because she’s a woman.
While I disagree with the idea of voting for a candidate simply because of her gender, one thing we can all agree on is that the America falls behind in representation of women in government. Currently there are 22 other countries with female heads of states, and Rwanda, Bolivia and Cuba have the most women in parliament, with 48.9% 53.1% and 63.8% women elected respectively.
Where does the United States stand? Only 20 women currently serving in Senate (14 democrats and six republicans) and 84 women serve in the United States House of Representatives. Out of those 84 women, only 33 of them are women of color.
If we really want to focus efforts on getting women elected this fall, Hilary Clinton cannot be the only woman we focus on. This year there are 27 female candidates running for United States Senate, 216 for House of Representative, six for governor, and countless more running for seats in state and local government. Elections in State Senates and Assemblies are especially important, for as comedian and pundit John Oliver points out, more bills and legislation comes out of the state legislatures than Congress.
And in this politically tumultuous time, having more women elected could usher in an era where women’s issues are no longer decided by men. Women’s health decisions can finally be made by women, instead of men like Indiana Governor Mike Pence who seek to limit women’s access to abortion. And many issues that are important to women like reproductive health rights, access to abortion, gender wage inequality gaps, are regulated by state governments, not the federal.
So this November, when it is time to go to the polls, don’t focus on just one female candidate, but all of them. Change does not come from one leader at the top, but starts from the hundreds in local communities and local government, that create the larger movement that make opportunities for women possible.
Want to get more involved and help get women elected?
To learn more about all the women running for elected office this election cycle, check Rutgers’s Center for American Women in Politics list here.
To join advocacy groups pushing for women in elected positions see:
- Emily’s List: “We ignite change by getting pro-choice Democratic women elected to office.”
- Maggie’s List: “the country’s leading political action committee specifically focused on electing conservative women to federal public office.”
To join groups that promote young women to eventually go into politics:
- Running Start: “By educating young women and girls about the importance of politics, and imbuing them with the skills they need to be leaders, we give women the running start they need to achieve greater political power.”