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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 12th, 2024

Dear Readers,

This week was filled with love and support as I celebrated my 60th birthday! I was overwhelmed by the well wishes and support from my loved ones, close friends, and allies in this work. Your kindness inspires me and fuels my dedication to increasing women’s political representation and building a stronger democracy.

A rejuvenating family vacation only strengthened my resolve. With the reintroduction of the Fair Representation Act and ranked choice voting gaining traction, I am optimistic about achieving gender balance in government in my lifetime. RepresentWomen’s birthday fundraiser, held in my honor, has been a great success. If you want to support our mission, please consider donating to our fundraiser.

This week, read about  Arlington’s preparations for RCV  in the upcoming November elections, celebrate Shirley Chisolm, who continues to receive high recognition as a new stage play prepares for its debut, explore the impact of the increase in women mayors in Turkey,  learn about women leaders advocating for women’s leadership in politics and global health, and finally, uncover why the UN is concerned about Georgia’s removal of electoral gender quotas.

Ranked-Choice Voting Prepares to Revolutionize Arlington Elections: Efforts Underway to Educate Voters Ahead of November

Credit: Melanie Humble.

In Arlington, preparations are underway for implementing ranked choice voting (RCV) in the upcoming November elections. The elections office faces challenges in reaching all residents, particularly occasional voters, about the switch to RCV. Efforts are underway to educate voters, including tutorials during the Democratic primary.

Our research has shown that ranked choice voting will open doors for more women and minorities and create a fairer electoral process for Arlington residents once implemented.

Scott McCaffrey from Gazzette Leader reports:

While arguments pro and con about RCV have been waged in Arlington for several years, there’s no doubt that many remain unaware of the format switch for County Board elections. That’s particularly true of presidential-election-only voters, the civic equivalent of churches’ “C&E” (Christmas and Easter) parishioners, who are less likely to heed voting changes than those who cast ballots religiously.

One countywide tutorial will be provided during voting for the June 18 Democratic primary, which will feature the County Board race and be conducted under RCV rules. Last year, the same primary was also run under RCV, but after complaints were raised, County Board members opted not to extend it to the 2023 County Board general election.

Shirley Chisholm's Legacy Takes Center Stage in 'Chisholm for President!' Musical

Credit: Melanie Humble

Recently, Netflix released a Shirley Chisholm biopic. Now, her life and achievements as the first Black woman to run for President are being brought to the stage in a new stageplay musical. 'Chisholm for President!' directed by Alex Chisholm, Director of Bradford Opera Festival, chronicles her groundbreaking campaign as the first Black woman to seek the US presidency. This powerful narrative of politics and change resonates deeply with contemporary audiences.

Dr. Shaheena Janjuha-Jivraj's article in Forbes reports:

Shirley Chisholm made history as the first African American woman to be elected to the United States Congress, serving in the House of Representatives for fourteen years, from 1969 to 1983.

Alex Chisholm, Director of Bradford Opera Festival, is bringing her story to the stage with a musical 'Chisholm for President!' performed at the Southbank Centre later this month. When Alex first came across Shirley's story twenty years ago, the coincidence of shared last names generated curiosity and exploration; "About the late 2000s, I happened across on the internet a picture of a petite but powerful looking Black woman with the slogan "Chisholm '72 Unbought & Unbossed". It stopped me in my tracks - we shared a surname! Who was she? And why hadn't I heard of her before? I went away and found out everything I could about her. I read her autobiographies, where her fresh, funny, passionate voice came off the page - a call for justice, peace, human rights, and a different kind of politics based on serving the most vulnerable in society, not the most powerful."

Number of Women Mayors On The Rise in Turkey

Credit: Mehmet Emin Mengüarslan/Anadolu, The Media Line

Last weekend, opposition parties claimed victory across Turkey in local elections, marking a significant shift in the political landscape. Notably, the number of women mayors surged from four to eleven, with ten hailing from opposition ranks. Among these emerging leaders is Gulistan Sonuk, a 31-year-old from the Halkların Eşitlik ve Demokrasi Partisi (DEM), also known as The Peoples' Equality and Democracy Party, who secured a win in Batman, symbolizing the rise of fresh faces in Turkish politics.

Despite some speculation, the victory stemmed from concerns over women's rights in Turkey. Such challenges resonate globally, including in the United States, where women persist in their struggle for complete autonomy and decision-making power over their bodies. As RepresentWomen continues to advocate for women’s representation in leadership roles, we aspire for the positive momentum witnessed in Turkey to reverberate across the United States and worldwide.

Kristina Jovanovski from The Media Line reports:

Atamaz said many people in Turkey see the results as a turning point. She told The Media Line, “We are seeing something different now. Most of the population is young, most of the population is women, and they’re finally being heard and represented in these positions.”

 “Women constitute a big part of the population in general in Turkey, and women also have been terrified of losing their rights,” Atamaz said. “They have more at stake basically, especially during election time. They want more women in power.”

“The long-fought-for rights of women were being eroded,” Alemdar said. “That might have affected the fact that people actually voted for female candidates.”

However, she cautioned that just because there are more female mayors, it does not mean that they will all automatically focus on women’s rights, and she believes the women’s movement would keep them “in check.”

Women Leaders Convene in Tanzania for the 2024 WomenLift Health Global Conference

Credit: Citizen Digital

From April 6th to April 8th, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, hosted one of the most prominent summits on gender equality and women’s leadership in global health, attracting world leaders, speakers, and thought influencers. Discussions included allyship for gender parity, transformative leadership, and actionable steps to advance women's leadership in global health.

Panels at the summit delved into the progress achieved in various regions, facilitated partnerships and networking opportunities, and tackled numerous challenges encountered by women leaders, proposing tangible solutions to drive change. Such gatherings illustrate the importance of advocating for women’s representation in leadership and the advantages it could have for all of us. 

Citizen Digital reports:

"There is also evidence that shows women leaders are more likely to prioritize the health needs of children, women, and communities, from reproductive and maternity care, to clean water and sanitation, to more robust health systems, she added.

She said East Africa provides a unique opportunity to localize the conversations and initiatives, ensuring they are tailored to the specific needs and realities of the local context.

Reports indicate that women, despite comprising 90% of frontline health workers and 70% of the overall global health workforce, still need to be noticed for senior leadership roles, forming only 25% of senior roles. 

In 2019, only 25 percent and 20 percent of global health organizations had gender parity in their senior management and governance boards, respectively. In 2020, only 44 women served as Ministers of Health worldwide, and Women Ministers of Children, Youth, and Families were much fewer.

“Making progress for women can be accelerated when women have that critical mass of seats at the decision-making tables. Where women are out of sight, they are out of mind,” Hellen Clark, former New Zealand Prime Minister, told delegates at the conference, which brings together speakers and thought leaders dedicated to propelling women's leadership forward in the global health arena.

UN Voices Concern as Georgia Moves to Scrap Electoral Gender Quotas

Credit: Ben Gray, AJC

A statement from the United Nations (published by Interpress News) voiced concerns over Georgia's Parliament rushing through the cancellation of mandatory electoral gender quotas. Research by RepresentWomen demonstrates that quotas effectively increase women's representation in elected office. This raises concerns that Georgia's decision will lead to declining female political participation.

"The United Nations expresses its concern that the Parliament of Georgia used an accelerated procedure to abolish mandatory electoral gender quotas. The introduction of a temporary electoral gender quota mechanism in Georgia was a long-standing recommendation of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, aimed at compensating for the systemic exclusion of women from the political decision-making process. Its cancellation is a step backward in achieving gender equality.

We call on the government of Georgia to make every effort to prevent actions that will hinder the fulfillment of Georgia's international obligations and endanger the country's democratic development," the statement said.

Millions of North Americans gathered with their friends and family to watch the solar eclipse this week. Some folklore says that the solar eclipse can give you superpowers. While the fight to build women’s political power doesn’t need superheroes (just passionate individuals), I want to see how readers rank these powers!

That's all for this week. Have a great weekend!

-Cynthia Richie Terrell


Our partners, 18by Vote, have launched their new nationwide initiative, the Youth Vote Ambassador Program. This program encourages young people to share their political concerns. It engages with them through workshops, where they receive resources and information to inspire their peers to ensure their voices are heard. 

The program targets young voters in New York, New York, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, and North Carolina.

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