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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation August 25, 2017

By NationBuilder Support on August 25, 2017



Dear allies,

Our friends at Latinas Represent have organized a Twitter Town Hall for this afternoon at 2pm to celebrate Women's Equality Day. A number of the leading non-partisan women's representation organizations will be participating in this event moderated by Tuti Scott - founder of Imagine Philanthropy - I hope that you will add your voice to the Town Hall this afternoon and use the #WomensEqualityDay hashtag for social media posts for the next three days.

Please share the attached images - shown above - on your social media platforms to help us amplify our impact!

And here's an assortment of Equality Day images - there are plenty more to be found and shared!

Happy 'equality' day weekend to all - it's our work together that will help us to realize actual equality!


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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation August 18, 2017

By NationBuilder Support on August 18, 2017


"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

August 18, 1920 - the 19th amendment was ratified, enshrining these words in the Constitution.

While "winning" the right to vote was an enormous milestone in the movement for women's equality, women now vote in higher numbers than men but are still seriously under-represented at every level of government. Partisanship is far more likely to determine our electoral choices than the candidate's gender.

In the last few decades "identity politics" has been more acceptable to democratic voters than to republican voters but a heated debate is now brewing among democratic party loyalists around whether to jettison specific identity groups and instead embrace a big tent of issues and policy platforms.

I have been thinking a lot about this issue and feeling increasingly dismayed by those who would seem to suggest that it's women and people of color who have identities while white, rural, men are identityless. All of us have identities and should have the opportunity to have our interests represented in government. Our current winner take all voting system pits constituencies against one another - fueling the perception that some voters are liabilities - despite their unparalleled party loyalty -  while other voters are the ticket to success.

I found some answers to my questions about identity politics at a lovely dinner last week in Cambridge, MA with Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier. Many of you will remember that then-president Bill Clinton nominated her to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the spring of 1993 and then withdrew the nomination when others attacked Guinier for her writing about representative democracy and power.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation August 11, 2017

By NationBuilder Support on August 11, 2017


Dear friends,

There is simply too much to do! This week will be short on content but long on appreciation!

I am reminded daily of the absolutely necessary and fabulous work that all of you are doing to advance women's representation in the United States and around the world. I hope that all of you are fortified by the power of our growing movement - made richer by sharing our successes, building relationships, and holding fast to the vision of gender parity.

I am especially grateful this week to the team of fabulous interns who worked at Rep2020 this summer! Many thanks to Anna Scheibmeir, Neeknaz Abari, and Katie Shewfelt who spent the summer delving into research, writing projects, updates to the website, and video production!

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation August 4, 2017

By NationBuilder Support on August 04, 2017


Hello friends and allies,

Writing again from the road in New Hampshire - the only state to get an 'A' on Rep2020's Gender Parity Index - so just a thumbnail sketch of some of the big stories from this week.
There was a sobering story in The New York Times about the challenges women CEOs face in the United States. While the routes to service in the private and public sector may be different, the cultural biases and discrimination is of course the same. Some groups like Project Mine the Gap and All in Together are working to engage women in the private sector specifically but it's important for all of us to develop strategies that promote and protect women's leadership in all spheres.
But with only 27 women holding the chief executive post, the departures of even a few will quickly thin the ranks. Those 27 included Ms. Rosenfeld from Mondelez and Debra Crew, the chief executive of Reynolds American, which is no longer a stand-alone company after being acquired last month by British American Tobacco.
Women continue to make inroads as directors on corporate boards, a critical step toward landing more women in top spots, since those boards select the chief executive. Even so, there are 610 companies in the Russell 3000 — a broad index that seeks to be a benchmark of the United States stock market — that have no women on their boards, according to the research firm Equilar.
As many of you probably know, Seattle is poised to elect a woman mayor for the first time since 1926. This story in the Seattle Times from a couple days ago reflects the status of the candidates early in the vote-counting process:

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation July 28, 2017

By NationBuilder Support on July 28, 2017


Hello friends,

This week's missive will be short because I am on a work/vacation road trip speaking and organizing in New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts! I will be attending the National Conference of State Legislatures meeting in Boston - please let me know if any of you are also attending and would like to rendez-vous!

There were two especially interesting articles in The New York Times this week:

  • In the Americas, Chile's Leader Is the Last Woman Standing - a sobering reminder of the static/low number of female heads of state around the world. While Chile and other South American nations rank above the United States for women's representation - in large part because of their use of proportional voting systems and gender quotas/caps - very few women make it to the presidency. To win parity we must continually seek and employ new strategies that are bold, intentional, and institutional.

No one relished the milestone more than President Michelle Bachelet of Chile.

For a few years, she and two other female leaders presided over much of South America, representing more than half of the continent’s population.

Their presidencies — in Argentina, Brazil and Chile — made the region an exemplar of the global push for a more equitable footing for women in politics. And their moment came long before the United States, often regarded as less sexist than Latin America, even came close to electing a female president.

But now, with one of her counterparts impeached and the other fighting corruption charges, Ms. Bachelet finds herself in an unsettling position: the last female head of government standing in the Americas.

And in a few months, she will be gone, too.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation July 21, 2017

By NationBuilder Support on July 21, 2017


​Speakers at the Galvanize launch in Chicago this week

Dear friends,

This week marked the 169th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention where a group of women - who had been excluded from a abolitionist convention because of their gender - met to discuss women's equality. While it took another 70 years to win suffrage the bonds that formed in July of 1848 grounded the conversation that is still evolving today.

Many of us were reminded of the power of gatherings like Seneca Falls at the incredibly successful event that IGNITE and Running Start hosted in Washington, DC this week. Nearly every hand went up when the room full of diverse young women was asked if they plan to run for office. It was a thrill to be on a panel with other women's representation enthusiasts that included Erin Vilardi from VoteRunLead, Monica Ramirez from Latinas Represent, Kimberly Peeler-Allen from Higher Heights, Mindy Finn from Empowered Women, Erin Loos Cutraro from She Should Run, and  Larissa Martinez from RightNOW. Here is a link to our segment of the two day program that was packed with impressive and inspiring speakers.

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Starting from the Bottom is Why We're Here: Representation in Political Theory

By NationBuilder Support on July 21, 2017


Dear friends,

Let me first introduce myself. My name is Emma Stewart, I am a rising junior at Smith College and I am interning this summer with the Wilson Center’s Women in Public Service Project. We are currently working on the Global Women's Public Leadership Index which measures women’s public leadership across the world. We are fortunate to have Representation 2020 as a partner in this endeavor.

Over the past year we’ve been looking at powerful women, and the lack thereof, in executive, legislative, judicial, civil service, and security positions. We want to provide data to help contextualize questions of barriers preventing women from climbing up the public service ladder, and eventually provide a tool for overcoming these barriers - from legislation to grassroots organizing.

But these questions got me thinking, not necessarily about the pathways and obstacles that individual women face in their journeys to public leadership, but about the pathway that our society is currently on, and how unchanged that pathway has remained since Athens in the fifth century B.C. It is called “the canon” – specifically, the political theory canon. This canon, and the men that have created it, defined not only western political thinking, but western political structures. These works are considered timeless– which means that not only are their grandiose ideas of liberty and democracy carried into the 21st century, but their bigotry and biases come along too.

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The Declaration of Sentiments: Then and Now

By NationBuilder Support on July 20, 2017


Today is a day to celebrate - exactly 169 years ago, the Seneca Falls Convention changed the course of women’s history. Seneca Falls was where great feminists of the time, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Martha C. Wright, and Mary Ann McClintock, came together to sign the Declaration of Sentiments - the first affirmative declaration of women’s rights in United States history. The Declaration of Sentiments, which Elizabeth Cady Stanton modeled after the Declaration of Independence, was the framework for the women’s suffrage movement, as it argued for equal rights for women and men. Frederick Douglass, who was among the 32 men and 68 women who signed the document, described it as the “grand movement for attaining the civil, social, political, and religious rights of women.”

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Public Versus Private Realms: Women’s Empowerment in Rwanda

By NationBuilder Support on July 17, 2017



In the context of electoral gender parity, Rwanda is a fascinating case study. Women currently hold 55.7 percent of parliamentary seats in Rwanda, the highest percentage of women in national parliaments globally, and women also constitute half of the country’s 14-member supreme court.


The catalyst for the country’s progress was the Rwandan Genocide of 1994.  After the genocide, President Paul Kagame had to face the challenge of rebuilding a broken country with little remaining infrastructure and shattered political structures. Only 20 of Rwanda’s 785 judges survived the genocide, and none of the members of the post-genocide Transitional National Assembly had served in the previous government.


In addition to the destruction of these institutions, a large portion of the men in Rwanda had been slaughtered, arrested, or forced to leave the country by the end of the genocide. The result was a country where women made up 70 percent of the population. It was clear that in order for the country to become functional again, women would have to take an active role in rebuilding it. In a patriarchal society where women had always been expected to stay at home and serve their husbands, they now took up a variety of active roles in public life. Specifically, women became very involved in the Rwandan government.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation July 14, 2017

By NationBuilder Support on July 14, 2017


Happy Bastille Day!

There was a fascinating story from Malta Today about the proposal there to use separate ballots to triple the number of female MPs - a great example of party leaders engaging with the challenge of how to increase women's representation meaningfully. Malta and Ireland share the distinction of being the two countries in the world that use the single transferable vote (STV) to elect their national legislature - gender quotas are a natural complement to this ranked voting system - STV is used in Cambridge, MA as well.

Aaron Farrugia suggested that, as a stopgap measure, women candidates should be able to contest on two separate ballot sheets – the current district-based sheet and a new national sheet specifically for women candidates. From this latter list, ten women candidates will be elected to Parliament, based both on their individual votes obtained and as a proportional representation of the parties’ shares of votes in the election.

They will be elected over and above the 65 constitutionally elected MPs, meaning that Malta’s Parliament will rise to 75 MPs so long as this measure is in place.

Farrugia insisted that this proposal should only be introduced as a stopgap measure until the root causes of the shortage of female election candidates are addressed – such as by introducing the concept of full-time MPs, and by encouraging political parties to urge their women mayors, councilors and activists to run for election with as much zest as they do to their “star candidates”. 


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