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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation March 8, 2024

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Happy International Women’s Day! This week, I am so inspired by the brilliance of women worldwide. It only reinforces the daily reminder that women are changing humanity. Our knowledge, desire to challenge patriarchal systems, and love for humankind drive us to do this work to inspire world-changing and groundbreaking solutions.


This week, we hosted our 3rd annual Democracy Solutions Summit. The virtual event contrasted the many “manels” I have attended that lacked women's voices. The Democracy Solutions Summit featured women experts who shared their knowledge and ideas for viable solutions to build women’s political power. From learning about ranked choice voting in Alaska to how we can better protect women who choose to be in politics, we covered various topics important to increasing women's representation.

RepresentWomen also extends heartfelt congratulations to Jessica Mackler, who recently announced that she is the new president of Emily’s List.

Cre: Emily’s List Instagram

For this week’s Weekend Reading, learn about elections in Iran, gender disparities in political funding, Burlington, Vermont, witnessing history, and Nikki Haley’s unfortunate ceding of the presidential race. I am also excited to share highlights from our 2024 Democracy Solutions Summit.

Nikki Haley Drops Out of Presidential Race

Nikki Haley has suspended her 2024 presidential campaign, leaving the Republican nomination path open for Donald Trump. While not endorsing Trump, Haley acknowledged his likely nomination and wished him well.

Nikki Haley stayed in the race this long because she felt the Republican Party needed an alternative to Donald Trump. Ranked choice voting would allow voters to pick alternative candidates without risking “wasting” their votes.

 Brian DakssCaroline Linton, and Nidia Cavazos for CBS News report:

It is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party and beyond it who did not support him," Haley said. "And I hope he does that." 

Two sources close to Haley say she is eager to remain part of the GOP conversation, is proud of being the last contender standing against Trump, and is not ruling out anything moving forward. Her top allies believe her run cements her as the standard bearer for traditional Republican values, especially with the looming exit of Sen. Mitch McConnell, who is stepping down as Senate minority leader and not running for reelection.

Afifeh Abedi Champions Gender Equality and Political Representation in Upcoming Iran Elections

Credit: Atta Kenare AFP

An article in France 24 discusses the participation of women in the upcoming Iranian parliamentary elections. One candidate, Afifeh Abedi, emphasizes the active role of women in society despite their limited share of political power. Abedi aims to address issues like Iran's strict dress code for women and women empowerment advocates. She is part of the "Voice of the Nation" list, aiming to bring more women into influential positions and tackle economic challenges.

RepresentWomen’s research shows that women’s issues are the priority when women are in political power. Abedi’s campaign is another example of how different issues are brought to the forefront when women can run for office.

Women "are very active in society but hold a very small share of the power," said the 44-year-old candidate ahead of a campaign event at a mosque in southern Tehran.

"It's men who make the decisions, even when they concern women."...

A political science researcher, Abedi is among six women on the "Voice of the Nation" list, an alliance of 30 candidates from various political movements. She says if she wins a seat in parliament, her top priorities are to give more power to women and tackle economic challenges in the sanctions-hit country suffering rapid inflation. The "Voice of the Nation" list -- formed by influential ex-parliamentarian Ali Motahari -- has been approved to run for Iran's 290-seat parliament.

Gender Disparity in Political Funding: Analysis Reveals Stark Gap as Men Outpace Women in Self-Funded Contributions

Credit: OpenSecrets

Joanne Hanner’s analysis in OpenSecrets finds a significant gender gap in spending from self-funded candidates. Men self-funded candidates significantly outnumbered women, with men contributing nearly $87 million compared to women's $7 million. The Center for American Women and Politics noted a gender gap in self-funding at the state level, attributing it to differences in personal wealth. New FEC rules allowing candidates to receive a salary from campaign funds aim to reduce financial barriers for working-class candidates, particularly women and people of color.

We partnered with OpenSecrets for our 2020 PAC Report. Read the report to learn more about how women raise funds for their campaigns and the financial strategies that can further support women.

“In general, women earn less than men, so gender earnings have consequences in politics,” Kira Sanbonmatsu, senior scholar at CAWP, told OpenSecrets. “We have been interested in learning about that statistic because of what we know about gender differences in the economy.” 

The most self-funded female candidate was Republican candidate Kelly Daughtry in her campaign for the open seat representing North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District. An attorney, Buckhout has self-funded 96% of her campaign, channeling just over two million dollars into her candidacy…

Although Congress is currently more diverse than it has ever been, women and people of color still make up less than one-third of lawmakers, according to the Pew Research Center. A majority of lawmakers are also millionaires.

Burlington, Vermont Elects Its First Woman Mayor

Credit: Glenn Russell

An article for WCAX 3 covers a milestone for Burlington, Vermont. The city made history this past Tuesday by electing its first woman mayor, Emma Mulvaney-Stanak.

Vermont’s adoption of ranked choice voting in 2021 helped set the stage for this achievement. Learn more about how ranked choice voting allows women to win elections with our RCV toolkit.

Katharine Huntley reports

Mulvaney-Stanak defeated Democrat Joan Shannon by nearly 1,000 votes on a count of 7,612-6,696, winning 51% of the vote to Shannon’s 45%.

Mulvaney-Stanak benefited from strong turnout and big margins in the traditional ProIt, which was standing room only at Zero Gravity Tuesday night, where Mulvaney-Stanak celebrated her historic win. There was chanting and cheering as Burlington’s new mayor-elect greeted her supporters for the first time.

“I did not see a leader like me when I was growing up in Central Vermont. I did not see a woman, I did not see a mom who has young kids, I did not see a queer leader. And it took years and that matters because we need to know, our young people, our adults need to know, everyone needs to know that representation matters,” she said.

Mulvaney-Stanak’s win is the first time a Progressive mayor will lead the city since Bob Kiss served from 2006-2012.

Mulvaney-Stanak says she wants to create greater community safety, get help to those who need it most, and hold people accountable who are creating harm in the city.

Embracing Change: The Positive Impact of California's Term Limit Reforms on State Legislature Turnover and Gender Equality

Credit: Jacob Lund

Susannah Deleno’s opinion piece discusses the turnover in California's state legislature due to term limit reforms. While some argue that losing established leaders harms the government, Deleno emphasizes the benefits of gaining new leadership and diverse perspectives. 

Notably, term limits offer more chances for women to run, reducing barriers women face, like the incumbency advantage.

It’s clear: open seats are opening doors for new voices. Not just any voices – but precisely the ones that have been missing in the Capitol for far too long.

We expect the doors will open so wide this year that nine months from now, California will set a new record of at least 55 women in the Legislature.

Less than a decade ago, only 26 women members served in the Legislature.

Progress this dramatic doesn’t happen by accident. For women to win in high numbers, women have to run in high numbers…

It’s working: the March 2024 primary ballot features a record-breaking 135 women running for the Legislature. More than half (74) are running in open seats. Of 35 open seats, all but three feature at least one woman running. This is a sea change from what we saw just a decade ago when all-male candidate fields were common.

And it’s one of the most diverse groups we’ve seen, with more than 50 women of color running for open seats (including eight AAPI and MENA women, 17 Black women, and more than two dozen Latinas) in every part of the state.

Happy Oscars Week! Did you know that the Academy uses ranked choice voting? U.S. Politics should take a page from Hollywood’s book and adopt voting systems that ensure fairness and representation. Academy voters will use the same ballot structure as the weekly ranked choice voting polls featured in the Weekend Reading. Let us know what movie you want to see win Best Picture with this poll!

 2024 Democracy Solutions Summit Highlights

This year’s Democracy Solutions Summit wrapped yesterday, and I couldn’t be more proud of how it expanded our knowledge by sharing vital information that could help support women’s representation.

Day 1

Women experts worldwide joined the discussion about ranked-choice-voting, the fastest-growing electoral reform in the country. We welcomed leaders Senator Cathy Giessel, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Laura Arnold, Emily Lockwood, and Representative Mary Peltola to share how the system can help increase women’s representation.

Day 2

Our second day was all about electing a woman president. The Summit’s Day 2 experts shared what we can do to elect our first woman president. Experts such as Celinda Lake, Erin Vilardi, Amber McReynolds, Rina Shah, Judy Woodruff, and many more amplified the importance of finally electing a woman to our country’s highest office.

Day 3

Finally, our last day celebrated what strategies are working abroad to ensure women’s representation. Namatai Kwekweza, Sandra Pepera, Senator Cynthia Castro, Jennifer Piscopo, and more shared the worldwide viable strategies that ensure women are represented in more political spaces.

Thank you to everyone who made our event a success!  We can't wait to see you next year!

Thanks for reading! I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating the amazing women in your life.

Cynthia Richie Terrell


In Europe, it is customary for men to give women a bouquet of yellow flowers to celebrate International Women’s Day. To the women reading this, I share this bouquet with all of you. RepresentWomen celebrates your greatness, joy, brilliance, and the groundbreaking work you continue to do to make this world a better place.


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