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Updates from RepresentWomen

Women's Representation in Costa Rica

By Louisa Sholar by on July 03, 2019

"Legislative Assembly President Carolina Hidalgo (third from left) and leadership" (Legislative Assembly via The Tico Times)

While there are several reasons I believe in efforts to support female candidates, my semester abroad in Costa Rica gave me a new perspective on gender parity pursuits. Studying their electoral system and gender quota laws prompted me to consider what institutional reforms would look like in the United States and strengthened my dedication to advocacy surrounding this topic. 

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation June 7, 2019

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on June 07, 2019


(The members of the first all-female Madison School Board, from left, Ali Muldrow, Ananda Mirilli, Mary Burke, Gloria Reyes, Cris Carusi, Kate Toews and Nicki Vander Meulen.

One hundred years later, Wisconsin government doesn’t exactly look like it was the first to ratify the 19th Amendment recognizing women’s right to vote.

Women represent just 27% of the seats in the state Legislature, have not served as governor or Assembly speaker, and hold just 20% of county board seats, 12% of mayorships and only two out of 10 positions in the state’s congressional delegation.


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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 31, 2019

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on May 31, 2019


Dear women's representation enthusiasts, reported that the government of South Africa now has a gender balanced cabinet joining Rwanda and Ethiopia - which is very exciting news:

South Africa’s cabinet announced on Wednesday became the third on the African continent that has an equal number of female and male ministers.

Ramaphosa who hailed the cabinet for making history as the first gender-parity cabinet in the country’s history, joins Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame who have taken similar actions.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 24, 2019

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on May 24, 2019


(Nevada's majority-female legislature)
Dear readers,
This missive will be brief because I know we all might need a break from the news - but here are some highlights from the week! Next week I promise a full rundown of election results from Australia and from India - if they are available.
The Washington Post had a very interesting story about the nation's first majority-female legislature:

Since Nevada seated the nation’s first majority-female state legislature in January, the male old guard has been shaken up by the perspectives of female lawmakers. Bills prioritizing women’s health and safety have soared to the top of the agenda. Mounting reports of sexual harassment have led one male lawmaker to resign. And policy debates long dominated by men, including prison reform and gun safety, are yielding to female voices.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 17, 2019

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on May 17, 2019


(I suspect these Irish sheep favour quotas...)
My dear friends,
There was a fascinating article in The Times of Dublin about the National Women's Council of Ireland's call for gender quotas in local elections - another reminder that other nations are leading the conversation about innovative systems reforms to advance women's representation and leadership:

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) has called for gender quotas to be introduced in future local elections after Fianna Fail and Fine Gael both failed to achieve 30% female nominations in their lists of candidates.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 10, 2019

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on May 10, 2019


Afghan girls raise their hands during English class at the Bibi Mahroo high school in Kabul on Nov. 22, 2006. Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

Foreign Policy had a very interesting piece on women's political power in Afghanistan - with fascinating contrasts to the debate on these same topics in the US and around the world. Of particular note is the classic duality between the letter of the law and the application of the law:
As it stands now, though, the Afghan Constitution focuses heavily on political rights. In fact, many of the protections it grants women aren’t even matched in Western democracies—notably, Afghan women are guaranteed equal rights under Article 22. The U.S. equivalent has yet to be ratified. Among Afghan women’s rights is representation in the country’s House of Elders, equal access to education, the ability to serve in the military, the ability to inherit land and property, and freedom of speech and from torture. Of course, most of these rights are neither fully enacted nor upheld in courts.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 3, 2019

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on May 03, 2019


Dear friends,

Maya Salam writes in The New York Times about the new organization SuperMajority that launched this week to support women's activism and engagement:

First came the 2016 presidential election, then came an avalanche of activism. There was the Women’s March, and ultimately, a record number of women ran for and were elected to political office. All the while, activist groups have sprung up in communities across the United States.

This week, a new organization, Supermajority, was introduced by a trio of high-profile, progressive leaders: Cecile Richards, the former president of Planned Parenthood; Alicia Garza, a founder of Black Lives Matter; and Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, which advocates for improved working conditions for domestic workers.

Their goal: to train and mobilize two million women to become organizers, activists and leaders ahead of the 2020 election — an effort Richards called a “women’s new deal.”

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 19, 2019

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on April 19, 2019


‘Women, don’t be afraid to participate in politics!’ Activists and politicians mark International Women’s Day in Banda Aceh in March. Photo by Irwansyah Putra for Antara.

Dear friends,
There was a fascinating story on women's representation in Indonesia from the University of Melbourne's Policy in Focus - it's a long piece and very worth reading. Here is an excerpt:

Indonesia first introduced affirmative action for gender justice through Law 31 of 2002 on Political Parties, which required political parties to “consider gender equality and equity” in the recruitment of legislative candidates and in political party structures from the national to the local level. After two rounds of revisions, in 2008 and 2011, the phrase “consider gender equality and equity” was strengthened to “include 30 per cent representation by women”.

While there were no sanctions for parties that ignored the 30 per cent rule, women’s representation in political party structures increased from 2003 to 2014, according to analysis by Cakra Wikara Indonesia (link is external) (CWI). In 2014, two political parties even exceeded the 30 per cent threshold in their organisational structures: the Democratic Party and Hanura.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 12, 2019

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on April 12, 2019


Kakenya Ntaiya, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo of Belgium, Heidi Hartmann, Melanne Verveer, and Hanna Kristjansdottir at American University College of Law this week
Dear friends,
It was a real pleasure to attend two great event this week in Washington, DC. On Wednesday the Washington College of Law at American University and the Institute for Women's Policy Research hosted a terrific event with gender equality experts (pictured above) who gathered to discuss the new book by Deputy Prime Minister Alexander de Croo entitled The Age of Women: Why Feminism Also Liberates Men:

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 5, 2019

By Cynthia Richie Terrell on April 05, 2019


Lori Lightfoot was elected mayor of Chicago - the 3rd largest city in the United States - becoming the first African American and first openly gay person elected to that office.
Many news outlets covered her victory including The Washington Post:

Voters in Chicago made history on Tuesday by electing Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, as the city’s first black female mayor. Her commanding victory capped a grueling campaign in which Lightfoot, who will become the city’s first openly gay mayor, defeated more than a dozen challengers en route to winning her first elected office.

Lightfoot, 56, is now set to lead the nation’s third-largest city as it continues to grapple with gun violence, alleged public corruption, ongoing efforts to reform the police force and an exodus of black residents. In the runoff election on Tuesday, she defeated Toni Preckwinkle, president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, in a contest fraught with historic meaning, given that it featured two black women vying to succeed outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

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