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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 21st, 2023

Dear Readers,

Happy Friday! This week, RepresentWomen reflects on women's strides to increase representation and make a fair and safe society for us all. We have included stories this week that reflect the challenges women face and a solution you can be a part of.

RCV in Action: Las Cruces Mayoral Race

Kasandra Gandara, current mayor pro-tem of the Las Cruces City Council (all women) and a long-time social worker, recently announced her candidacy for mayor. Gandara's success would make her the first woman mayor of Las Cruces.

Las Cruces implemented ranked-choice voting in November 2017, with its first use in March 2018. The March election saw positive campaigning and record voter turnout. 

RCV also led the Las Cruces city council to reach gender parity in 2018 and continues to be one of the primary systemic solutions that reduce barriers to women's representation in government. 

Check out RepresentWomen's RCV City Council Snapshot here and our RCV Mayors Snapshot here

"I'm an experienced leader. And, I am thoughtful and compassionate about our city," Gandara said. "Although I was not born and raised here, I have raised my children here as a single mom. And I think what I've been able to accomplish in my career, and not just my political career, hasn't been easy as a single mom."

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) Criticizes Fellow Republicans for Their Silence on Mass Shootings and Abortion Access

Nancy Mace, a U.S. representative for South Carolina's 1st congressional district, is speaking up to criticize her party for their resistance to gun control measures and stance on abortion access.

“Republicans can no longer be silent on this issue,” Mace told anchor Shannon Bream on “Fox News Sunday.” “It’s not about the Second Amendment. There are plenty of things that we could be doing besides offering prayers and silence.”

Mace suggested that Republicans should focus on measures that do not outright target gun control. The politician suggested alternatives such as a technological tool that would essentially function like an Amber Alert to let people know when they are near a mass shooting.

“Everytime there’s a mass shooting… we don’t say anything, want to bury our heads in the sand and hope that it goes away,” Mace said. “It’s not going away… it is an issue that continues to be a problem for Republicans.”

Although she considers herself to be "pro-life", Mace has also been a vocal critic of the Republican party's moves to restrict access to abortions following the Supreme Court's ruling in Dobbs which overturned precedent long-established by Roe. v. Wade.

“Some of the stances we’ve taken, especially when it comes to rape and incest and protecting the life of the mother, it’s so extreme… the independent voters… they cannot support this,” Mace said. “If we’re gonna ban abortion, what are we doing to make sure women have access to birth control?”

Women Are Leading the Charge to Fix Our Democracy: Spotlight on Minnesota

Jeanne Massey, executive director of FairVote Minnesota, and state Sen. Kelly Morrison shown speaking in front of the Senate Elections Committee. Source: MinnPost

US House Representative Mary Peltola (AK) and Jeanne Massey at the MN House Elections Committee hearing. Source: Politico

At RepresentWomen, we love celebrating the many women at the forefront of the democracy reform movement. From the local to the national level, women are advancing viable, scalable, and transformative solutions that upgrade and repair our broken democracy. This week, we'd like to give a special shoutout to our ally Jeanne Massey and her fantastic team at FairVote Minnesota

FairVote Minnesota's inspiring work was featured in Politico this week in "The Hottest Political Reform of the Moment Gains Ground: Inside Jeanne Massey's relentless campaign to fix democracy, starting in Minnesota." Author James Traub reports:

Jeanne Massey, the executive director of FairVote Minnesota, is the maestro behind the elaborate political campaign to pass the bill. She has spent almost 15 years persuading Minnesotans of the merits of ranked-choice voting and wearing down the resistance of legislators; her efforts culminated in a massive get-out-the-vote drive for ranked-choice voting-friendly candidates in the 2022 midterms. Should the bill pass this year — hardly a certainty — Massey and FairVote and their statehouse allies will lift ranked choice voting from a darling of democracy nerds to the most potent of the proposed reforms to the American electoral system...

I spent two days last month more or less continually in Jeanne Massey’s company. She is the kind of leader you would like to have for your advocacy organization no matter what it advocated. Trim, brisk, compact, with an air of surface composure that barely muffles the furious engine thrumming within, Massey is a triple-tasker who responds to texts and emails and phone calls while issuing orders to aides and lobbyists...

Massey’s relentlessness is a matter of legend. When a supporter stopped by for a fist bump at the alcove in the Senate building where she had set up momentary headquarters, Massey pressed him, as she pressed everyone she met, to show up at the FairVote rally later that day. “She’s like a friendly Mafia,” he said with a knowing grin...

Jeanne Massey had lined up a star witness for the House Elections Committee hearing — Mary Peltola, the Alaska Democrat who had defeated Palin for Congress last year...She spoke of the lawn-placard dynamics of ranked-choice voting. “I could not afford to alienate my opponents’ supporters,” she said, “because second- and third-choice voters were critical in determining who would win. I could not take any vote for granted or write any voter off.”

We were also delighted to have St. Paul, MN, Councilmember Nelsie Yang speak about ranked-choice voting at our 2023 Democracy Solutions Summit. Watch it here!

Feminism For Everybody

Bonnie Lord from The Albion Pleid reminds us that feminism benefits men too. It is a common misconception that feminism is for women only. In actuality, feminism is a social movement designed to achieve a world where men and women can thrive. As UN Women reports, women in political leadership help solve problems(such as climate change) that impact everyone. Having more women leaders in our democracy will benefit society as a whole.

To begin with, feminism isn’t about building women up at the expense of men. 

Encyclopedia Britannica defines feminism as, “the belief in full social, economic and political equality for women. Feminism largely arose in response to Western traditions that restricted the rights of women, but feminist thought has global manifestations and variations.” 

Feminism is more than the social movement for the elevation of women in our society; some of its most critical arguments are those most conveniently forgotten. One I would like to point out, in particular, is the role of men… 

it’s not uncommon to see men in these settings deferring the questions, avoiding the definitions, refusing to endorse feminism and otherwise taking a back seat when it comes to discussions of gender inequality.

In one study, conducted by the research group Ipsos in partnership with the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London in March of 2022, they found that one in three men believed feminism does more harm than good.

I believe this comes down to the warped perception many have of the movement, that initial definition that many use to argue against it, men and women alike. 

I think it’s important then to talk about why feminism is important for men. First and foremost, the hope is that anyone indulging and perpetuating the patriarchy will join those committed to dismantling it. 

Financial Sector is Estimated 140 Years from Gender Balance

The Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum has released the 10th edition of its Gender Balance Index, as reported in The Fintech Times. The report analyzes the proportion of women in senior positions at central banks and other major financial institutions across the globe. The OMFIF warns that, at the current rate of progress, it will take 140 years to reach gender balance in the global financial sector. This finding echoes the analysis of the UN and the World Economic Forum, as well as the sluggish rate of progress indicated in our own Gender Parity Index.

The shocking 140-year stat comes from a look into the 336 institutions covered in the index; of which only 14 percent are actually led by women. While the discourse around gender equality and equity continues to play an important role in the financial services industry, recent years haven’t signified any significant meaningful change. In 2022, only 13.7 percent of the institutions covered in the gender balance index were led by women – signifying a very minor 0.3 percent increase in one year. Similarly, in 2021 the percentage of female representation in these roles was only 13.3 percent.

Despite disappointing progress at the top, some of the numbers highlighted by OMFIF’s index made for better reading. Women made up 24 percent of deputy governors and C-suite staff in these institutions and 30 percent of the 6,221 senior staff across all institutions in the index.

However, while OMFIF found higher proportions lower down the ladder, the stats show that males still dominate C-suite roles. The issues also clearly do not improve, as the number of women in higher roles almost halve in comparison.

Speaking at the Lift Every Voice Breakfast

Cynthia with (back row) Danielle Allen, Spencer Overton, (front row) Grace Ramsey, Jenny Lee, and Sol Mara.

I had the opportunity to speak at More Equitable Democracy's "Lift Every Voice" breakfast. It celebrated the life and legacy of educator, legal scholar, and civil rights theorist Lani Guinier. Thank you to everyone that attended! And a special thank you to all the terrific speakers and to More Equitable Democracy for hosting this event and inviting me to speak.

Meeting with Rep Summer Lee

I had a great conversation with Pennsylvania congresswoman Summer Lee at the Patriotic Millionaires gathering this week - it was also great to see New Mexico congresswoman Teresa Leger at the event along with RepresentWomen board member Jodie Rubenstein!

Catching up with Democracy Solutions Summit speaker Jocelyn Benson

I am always impressed with Michigan secretary of state Jocelyn Benson - who spoke at a small gathering on election security this week on a beautiful evening in Washington, DC!

The broom is flowering this week in my garden and it is fragrant! I wish I could share its scent with you!


Enjoy your weekend!

Cynthia Richie Terrell


On April 26th, I’m joining She Should Run and a panel of women climate leaders from across the US to discuss climate change’s disproportionate impact on women and what you can do to create lasting change in your community. Register today!

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