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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 26, 2019

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Newly elected Tampa mayor Jane Castor
Dear gender parity enthusiasts!

Tampa, Florida elected its first LGBT woman mayor this week according to this story on - she joins 37 openly LGBT mayors nationwide:

Jane Castor made history Tuesday, becoming the first openly LGBTQ mayor elected to lead Tampa, Florida.
With endorsements from organizations that advocate for LGBTQ rights, like the Human Rights Campaign and Equality Florida Action PAC, Castor joins a growing number of openly LGBTQ elected officials nationwide.

According to the Victory Institute's Out for America database, which tracks LGBTQ representation among elected officials, just 0.13% of elected officials nationwide identify as LGBTQ. That's compared to about 4.5% of U.S. adults in 2017, according to a Gallup poll.
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Congratulations to Aimee Allison and to the terrific team at She The People for organizing an incredible presidential forum this week - you can watch the terrific event and stay tuned for upcoming forums in other states.
Aimee writes:
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank our partners, volunteers, the staff at TSU, and every single one of you who travelled from near and far to make this historic moment happen.

As Ellen McGirt of Fortune said, "...She the People is changing politics." This movement is happening. 

And we're just getting started. Our next step is to travel to swing states holding She the People Town Halls beginning in Virginia on May 18. We are excited about what’s ahead and we can’t do it without you. Join our Champion Circle today by signing up for a monthly recurring donation. A gift of any size helps us elevate our voice in the media and highlight our organizing and leadership right up until election day. 
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Congratulations are also in order for RightNOW and the Maverick PAC for hosting a lovely evening with former republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina moderated by the terrific Sabrina Schaeffer!
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Impressive lineup of impressive women on stage at the Vital Voices Gala - please excuse the photography that does not do them justice!
And finally, congratulations to Alyse Nelson and the team at Vital Voices Global Partnership for an amazing evening with women leaders at the Kennedy Center - it was great to hear from incredible women problem solvers from around the world and to see old friends too!
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With Carol Edgar and Swanee Hunt
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With Swanee Hunt and Laura Liswood
Noted author Marianne Schnall had a timely piece on about the women candidates running for the democratic nomination:
A record six women are running for president on the Democratic side: Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and motivational speaker Marianne Williamson. This unprecedented number, along with the historic surge of women who ran and were elected to office in the 2018 midterms, is a hopeful indication that women are beginning to make headway on the long and difficult path toward parity in politics.

But when it comes to fundraising -- which, like it or not, is often synonymous with a candidate's viability in our current political system -- female candidates have historically struggled to raise as much money as men.

While the 2018 midterms showed us that the tide may be beginning to turn in terms of women's fundraising efforts, we must be aware of the challenges women still face when raising money -- and what we can do to make the presidential playing field as even as possible.
Former U.S. ambassador to Austria, Swanee Hunt, and former president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, had a very interesting piece in the Boston Globe on the transformational impact that women's leadership has had in Rwanda:
Twenty-five years ago, a savage genocide ripped apart Rwanda, a tiny nation in the heart of Africa.

This month’s observance of the genocide that killed almost a million focused, as it should have, on those who lost their lives in the carnage. But few know of the pioneering role of Rwanda’s women, who stepped forward into an unimaginable crisis, then drove a sustained recovery that has set an example for the world.

The nation’s transformation has come through women’s leadership, which is obvious in the highest ranks of the judiciary, as well as many of the most important departments of the executive branch. The support of President Paul Kagame and his influential wife, Jeannette, has been essential. But it’s clear from the women with whom we’ve talked that the Kagame involvement does not stand alone.

Women now hold 61 percent of the seats in Parliament — according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union — by far the largest proportion in the world. That feat is the result of their conscious campaign to open paths for themselves and their sisters to take positions of authority, from village councils to provincial governments, and on up to the highest legislative body. The 2003 constitution requires that women hold at least 30 percent of seats in all government structures. But in most fields they have far outstripped that quota, and they have made sure that there is a pipeline of emerging female political figures....

This has translated into women achieving 88 percent participation in the Rwandan labor force, the same percentage as men; that puts Rwanda at number one in the World Economic Forum ranking for gender equality in the workplace. Overall, Rwanda ranks sixth in the forum’s global gender-gap score, which measures education, health, economic, and political empowerment. Those are among the strongest figures anywhere, whether in Africa or the developed world.
There was a very interesting story on the Illinois News Network about a group of Black business leaders who are calling for gender and racial quotas for public corporate boards in Illinois:

Lawmakers are pushing Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other legislators to pass legislation setting gender and race requirement for public corporations.

The bill would require all publicly-traded companies headquartered in Illinois to have at least one African American and one person who identifies as a woman on their boards or face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for each day they’re out of compliance.

There was also a fascinating article on the site Texas Lawyer about efforts to ensure gender balance in Houston area law firms - this is precisely the sort of intentional actions that must be taken by all sorts of public and private sector institutions:

A year after the Houston Bar Association revised its Gender Fairness Commitment Statement, 60 firms in Houston have signed the statement, which asks firms to take “concrete action” by 2020 to materially increase the number of women partners and women firm leaders.

HBA President Warren Harris, a partner at Bracewell, said he is excited that so many firms have committed to the objectives. He said the Gender Fairness Committee will reach out to firms in early 2020 to see what steps they have taken to increase gender equity in partnership and leadership.

“There’s certainly more work that needs to be done. We are glad the firms are supporting these issues,” Harris said...

According to the 2018 National Association of Women Lawyers Survey on Promotion and Retention of Women in Law Firms, 20%  of equity partners in big U.S. firms are women. That showed an increase of just one percentage point since 2017. The survey includes responses from 97 Am Law 200 firms.

Harris, whose firm has signed the statement, said those numbers need to change.

“We need to all get on board. It’s something we have to make happen. It’s time,” he said.

IGNITE launched a new campaign this week called #WomenInTheHouse - watch their new video and share on your networks! Kristin Hayden - Chief Partnership Officer for IGNITE writes:
I'm reaching out to you to share this new campaign that IGNITE just launched to celebrate all the recent wins of women in the House & to inspire the next generation of young women to run for office! There is a great music video as well as an online quiz that young women can take to match their "political DNA" to current women in Congress - so young women can see themselves there.
Check out IGNITE's latest campaign that celebrates all the women in the House & visit

#WomenInTheHouse #RepresentationMatters #TheFutureIsFemale #WomenInPolitics 

VoteRunLead is hosting trainings in 20 cities on May 18th!! Learn more about how to sign up and participate virtually!
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RepresentWomen board member Michelle Whittaker and I got completely drenched right after this photo was taken but we sure had a good time talking about Ranked Choice Voting with Layla Zaidane of Millennial Action Project at the Women in Government Relations conference! Special thanks to Lindsey Donnelly and Libby Wuller!
P.S. I am pleased to report that my asparagus, greens, herbs, strawberries & peas are thriving and I took a leap of faith (in the weather) and planted my tomatoes last weekend! Please come visit me in my garden anytime!
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