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UK Elections Show Impact of Gender Quotas

By NationBuilder Support on June 15, 2017



Last week, the U.K. election received mass media attention for its partisan outcome, but less so for its unprecedented election of women to Parliament. On Thursday, June 8th, the U.K. made national history by electing 208 women Members of Parliament - the highest number yet. While the new partisan breakdown sparked heated debate and disagreement, the overwhelming appreciation for this achievement crossed party lines. Many also celebrated the election of the first woman Sikh MP, Preet Kaur Gill, and the first Palestinian MP, Layla Moran.


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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation June 9, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on June 09, 2017


​Hello all,

There were key races on both sides of the Atlantic this week that ground Representation2020's analysis of the structural barriers facing female candidates and the impact of intentional actions to accelerate the race to parity.

Ballotpedia reported on the results of the NJ state legislative primary on Tuesday. While we will not know final outcomes - and how many more women will hold office -  until the general election in November we do know that all of the incumbents who were running won and that:

The primary election on June 6, 2017, featured eight contested primaries: three Democratic races and five Republican races. This was a decrease from 2013, when there were 10 contested primaries: four Democratic races and six Republican races.

A total of four incumbents faced challengers in the 2017 primary elections: two Democrats and two Republicans. Five incumbents did not file for re-election in 2017: two Democrats and three Republicans.

Heading into the general election, Democrats hold a 24-16 majority. Republicans would need to flip five districts in order to take control of the chamber.

At the beginning of 2017, New Jersey was one of 19 states under divided government, with Republicans in control of the governorship and Democrats in control of the legislature. In most statewide elections leading up to the November 2017 elections, however, New Jersey leaned politically to the left.

Women made gains in the parliamentary elections this week in the UK winning 32% of the seats - an increase of 16 seats since 2015 - according to this story from the BBC. Intentional recruitment efforts by the parties are credited with this impressive seat gain. Sam Smethers, whom Susannah Wellford and I met in November in London, was quoted as saying:

The outcome of this election was a surprise to many pollsters, but it has seen more Labour women MPs elected. The Conservative Party has not seen a significant reduction in women MPs despite losing seats.

"But the real story is that progress has stalled. Getting more women in cannot be subject to party political fortunes. As we approach the centenary of women first getting to vote in general elections, we cannot wait for another nine elections to achieve equality.

"We agree with the recommendation of the cross-party Women and Equalities Select Committee that 45% of each party's candidates must be women. The time has come for a legally enforceable target to achieve the radical and sustainable change we need.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation June 2, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on June 02, 2017


Susannah Wellford and Laura Cox Kaplan joined Mika Brzezinski at an event at the Embassy of Germany that was focused on the "importance of authenticity, knowing and owning your value, and tackling self doubt" according to Laura Cox Kaplan - looks like a fabulous event!
Dear all,

A interesting story on CBCNews reports that the Liberals in Canada have appointed women to judicial positions and as candidates in key districts in order to achieve gender parity. Intentional actions like these are gaining momentum in the UK and Canada which is significant not only because they are major allies of the US but also because they share our single winner district/ winner takes all voting system. Building relationships with gender parity advocates in Canada is essential so that we can learn from their successes.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 25, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on May 25, 2017


Dear friends and allies,

I will keep this short as we all settle in for a longer-than-usual weekend. I am spending mine with my family in our very rustic cabin in the Pine Barrens in NJ!

The Des Moines Register reports that Kim Reynolds has become Iowa's first female governor - bringing the number of governors who are women back up to 6!

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 19, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on May 19, 2017


Dear friends,

Nina Agrawal reports in the LA Times about the election of Monica Rodriguez to the Los Angeles City Council - her election doubles the number of women on the council and serves as reminder that women remain under-represented in all of our largest cities.

Many shared the news that Macron, as planned, has appointed a gender balanced cabinet - as this story from the BBC reports:

Sylvie Goulard is defence minister while Olympic fencing champion Laura Flessel is sports minister.

Bruno Le Maire is economy minister, Gérard Collomb is interior minister and François Bayrou is justice minister.

Mr Macron's decision to pluck figures from across the political spectrum has sent the French right into disarray.

Mr Le Maire is a conservative moderate, Mr Collomb is the Socialist mayor of Lyon and Mr Bayrou is a veteran centrist.

Some 170 elected officials from the right were earlier criticised by hundreds of other lawmakers after they signed a statement backing Mr Macron.

One accused Mr Macron of "blowing up" the political landscape.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 12, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on May 12, 2017

Hello my friends,
The best news this week for women is that newly elected French president Emmanuel Macron announced that half of his cabinet will be comprised of women and that half of the 400 En Marche legislative candidates are women as well, according to this story on CNN.
The party of French President-elect Emmanuel Macron has unveiled the names of more than 400 candidates for the June legislative elections -- and half of them are women...On Thursday, En Marche! secretary general Richard Ferrand announced that 214 men and 214 women had been selected to run for the party -- and added that 52% of the candidates had never held electoral office. The announcement appears to fulfill the party's pledge in January that at least half its candidates would come from outside the political establishment and that half would be women. En Marche! has said it will field a candidate in all 577 seats, so more are expected to be announced in coming weeks.Ferrand said the party had 19,000 applicants, 71% of whom were men and 29% were women.France ranks first in the world, along with Bulgaria and Nicaragua, for the highest proportion of women in ministerial positions, at more than 52%, UN Women data shows. But its female representation in Parliament is dramatically lower, at just 25.8%, ranking 63rd in the world. Winning the most seats in Parliament will be no mean feat for En Marche!, which is less than a year old and is scrambling to finalize its list of candidates to contest all 577 seats.

This move by Macron is a stunning and encouraging demonstration of what real leadership on gender parity looks like. Those of us in the United States must challenge our party leaders at every level to make this same, simple, commitment to parity. In fact, it's time for all of us to declare our support for parity!

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 5, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on May 05, 2017

​Don't forget to check out a 50/50 Day party near you on May 10th! If you are in the DC area come to the Rep2020 offices to view the film and celebrate the push for parity!

Dear allies for parity,

The Ms Foundation, EMILY's List, VoteRunLead, Running Start, Right Women Right Now, She Should Run, IGNITE, Emerge, Higher Heights, VIEW PAC, Empowered Women, Latinas Represent, Rachel's Network, Sally's List, Close the Gap CA, What Will it Take, and Project Mine the Gap represent just a sliver of the many organizations celebrating women's leadership and pushing for parity for women in government in the United States. We are energized and we are mobilized - we just need a new, more strategic mix of tactics to ensure that in our lifetime government (and legislation) is of the people, by the people, and for the people. It's incumbent on us to pool our many talents and pursue data-driven strategies!
During a news segment an Australian MP argued that gender quotas may be necessary to increase the number of women in parliament - especially conservatives:

Sarah Henderson says gender quotas may be needed to boost the number of conservative women in parliament. At present there are 13 female MPs out of 76 Coalition members of the House of Representatives, with four of the six most marginal seats also held by women. Ms Henderson who holds the Victorian seat of Corangamite has told Sky News the Liberal party needs to take gender representation 'more seriously.''We absolutely have a problem, we have thirteen women in the House of Reps and that's not good enough.'

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 28, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on April 28, 2017

​Dear friends,
Every week brings reminders of the pressing need to elect more women from across the racial, political, and geographic spectrum along with indications that our work is gaining traction. I am heartened by the many opportunities for collaboration and interaction with each of you!

Lee Drutman wrote an excellent piece for Vox that describes why polarization and re-election of incumbents is at an all-time high - this translates into very, very few opportunities for women to enter state and federal politics. Lee goes on to endorse the Fair Representation Act, which will be introduced in Congress in June (!), that will dramatically increase the opportunities for women to run and win by establishing multi-winner districts with ranked choice voting for U.S. House elections. This same model can also be implemented at the state level and will have a similar impact on increasing the opportunities for new voices in government. Reihan Salam, editor of the National Review, wrote a similar critique of our current system a couple years ago - stay tuned for much more on this

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 21, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on April 21, 2017


Hello friends and allies,

The Federalist ran a fascinating blog by Patrick Fletchall titled "When Pushing Women's Advancement, Big Businesses Are Hypocrites" - the entire piece is very worth reading but here is a teaser:

To be clear, the issue isn’t that companies don’t make a priority of hiring women. Many companies like Bank of America, Target, and Moss Adams have initiatives specifically to hire and support women. Instead, the challenge is the trickle of women who have been able to break the ceiling into executive-level management.
Why is this important? As I’ve mentioned, I think these ad campaigns are great. They hit me right in the feels. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves that executive leadership in corporate business have all of a sudden decided to started seeing women’s intrinsic rather than profitable value. These ad campaigns represent consumer-product companies telling women what they think they want to hear, without changing their executive structure to practice what they preach.

The message is further complicated by the fact that it affirms certain life choices for women while ignoring the millions of women who choose to be the chief operating officer of their homes. Commercials are fine and awareness is nice, but until women have a seat at the table, these campaigns are a case of “Do as I say, not as I do.” By all means, dream big, princess—as long as you don’t dream of being an executive at Disney. If you do, you’re buying exactly what they’re selling.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 14, 2017

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on April 14, 2017


​Kay Ivey being sworn in as governor of Alabama

Hello allies,

Louise Davidson-Schmich had an excellent piece on Vox's political science blog Mischiefs of Faction on the impact of quotas and voting systems on the election of women:

The comparatively low number of women Congress is surprising, given that the United States scores relatively well on other measures of women’s well-being, such as the United Nations’ Gender Development Index. What accounts for this contradiction? Comparative research indicates that the primary determinant of women’s representation in legislatures worldwide involves the ways candidates are selected to run for office and the structure of the ballot upon which they appear.

Since the 1980s, the use of gender quotas for elective offices has diffused throughout the world, driving the increase in women’s political representation (see figure 2). Quotas involve setting percentages or numbers for the political representation of specific groups, in this case women and, at times, men.

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