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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 3, 2020


Jeannette Rankin was sworn in as the first woman elected to Congress on April 2nd, 1917 & is the only member of Congress to vote against funding for both the first and second world wars.
Dear friends,
It has been another week of headlines about the coronavirus and its impact on the healthcare system, the economy, and our daily lives. Each week also brings reminders of the women who have worked so hard for the rights we now enjoy and the incredible women leaders among us.
March 31st was the anniversary of Abigail Adams' letter to her husband, written in 1776, admonishing him to remember the ladies:


I long to hear that you have declared an independency -- and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.


Sojourner Truth & Susan B Anthony painted by Melanie Humble
March 31st also marks Women's Equal Pay Day and the anniversary of the founding of the National Council of Women in the U.S. in 1888 by Susan B Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Clara Barton, and Julia Ward Howe
The National Council of Women of the United States (NCW) is an organization comprised of women's voluntary organizations with a common interest in the social, educational, and political rights of women. Its primary purpose is to act as a clearing-house or information bureau for its members in order to broaden awareness of each other's activities and to increase cooperation and reduce duplication of efforts among them. Along with its affiliate organization, the International Council of Women, the NCW was founded in Washington, D.C. in March 1888.
April 2nd is the anniversary of the day that Jeannette Rankin (R-MT) became the first woman sworn in to serve in Congress. Rankin, a republican, was elected from a multi-seat district from Montana which was then considered to be a Democratic state. Rankin lost the election in 1918 in part because party leaders switched to single winner districts but she was elected again in 1940 and is remembered as a powerful leader in the suffrage movement. She wisely said: "I may be the first woman member of Congress but I won't be the last."


This week's milestones and birthdays from RepresentWomen's Suffrage Centennial Calendar
A number of our amazing contemporaries celebrate birthdays this week including:


A special birthday shout out to Melanie Humble, my dear and clever friend, who has drawn so many wonderful illustrations for RepresentWomen! Thank you Melanie!
The Center for American Women and Politics released new data in March on the number of women running for seats in Congress, here is a snippet from the brief by Claire Gothreau:
The Current State of Republican Women and What Might Happen in 2020

The most-told story of the 2018 mid-term elections was the historic gains made by women across different levels of office and nationwide. However, these gains were not made equally across party lines. In fact, the story of 2018 for Republican women was actually quite bleak, particularly in light of the overall historic nature of the election year. As a result of the 2018 election, the number of Republican women dropped in the U.S. House, in statewide elected executive offices, and in state legislatures. The number of Republican women serving in the U.S. House today (13) is the same as it was in 1990. Party differences were evident earlier in the process, too; while the number of Democratic women running increased by 100% from 2016 to 2018, the number of Republican women only increased by just 26.3%. These facts should trouble Republican leadership and have elicited calls to action from Republican women in leadership positions. They also beg the question: will this downward trajectory for Republican women continue or not in election 2020?

With the 2020 primary season in full swing, I take inventory of trends in Republican women running for the U.S. House over the last 30 years, noting particularly how things have progressed in the last few elections and where Republican women might be headed in 2020.

What are the long-term trends?

According to CAWP’s historical data, the number of Republican women candidates has risen over the last 30 years, although not at the same rate as Democratic women. The number of Democratic women running for office has consistently been higher than that of Republican women. In fact, 2010, a particularly strong year for Republicans, was the only year in which the party gap in women candidates nearly closed. However, after 2010, Republican women candidacies once again dipped before increasingly modestly in 2018.


I bet many of you are already on Frieda Edgette's email list but for those of you who may not be here is a teaser from this week's missive - learn more about Courage to Run:
BRAVO! You've completed two weeks of the 21 Day Social Connection Game. With one week left, on a 1 to 10 scale, how committed are you to building greater connections?
We are sending a weekly email each Wednesday with seven actions to take. If you are just joining the fun, you can catch-up on Twitter and the Courage to Run app. ENJOY!
Day 15: #WeCount #2020Census
It's National Census Day! Join the nation in completing the U.S. Census Survey. An accurate count of who lives where is vital to the health and well-being of our communities, and will impact resources for local public services and the number of seats each state has in Congress.
Day 16: Yes, And ...
Put “if’s” and “but’s” in the backseat. When in conversation with others and finding yourself wanting to counter or dispute, start your response with “Yes…” or “And…” or “Yes, and…” before proceeding with your comment. This little gem is an improv exercise. It spawns positivity and possibility. When we say “but”, we shut the conversation down – whether intentionally or not. By saying “yes … and …”, you build legitimacy and respect.
Day 17: Loving Kindness Meditation
Close your eyes. Repeat the following phrases to yourself three times: May we all be happy. / May we all be healthy. / May we all live with ease. / May we all know peace. / May we all be free. Use these words or others that resonate with you.
Key to what drives us as people is the motivation to build relationships and to belong. This abridged version of the classic loving-kindness meditation helps you feel more connected to others. It can also result in stronger, more satisfying relationships, and reduce self-focused rumination, anxiety and depression.
Refugee camp
The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace & Security is hosting an event next week: COVID-19: A Gender Perspective on the Growing Humanitarian Crisis:
  • Wednesday, April 8
  • 11:00am-12:00pm EDT
  • RSVP here to receive the Zoom link

Ms. Anita Bhatia, Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director for Resource Management, Sustainability and Partnerships, UN Women

Mr. Eric Schwartz, President, Refugees International

Ms. Mavic Cabrera-Balleza, Chief Executive Officer, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders

Dr. Orzala Nemat, Director, The Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit

Moderated by Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive Director, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security
The United Nations has launched a major humanitarian response plan to mitigate COVID-19's impact on the world's most vulnerable communities. Understanding the human dimension of the tragedy highlights the dire conditions and prospects of people living in places already affected by conflict and crisis – with weak healthcare systems, fragile economies, and high-levels of violence. Moreover, without effective response,"whole regions will be tipped into chaos and the virus will have the opportunity to circle back around the globe," according to Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock.

It is important to recognize that women and girls are both uniquely impacted and critical to mitigation strategies during this humanitarian crisis. They face specific economic hardships, humanitarian needs, and vulnerabilities to gender-based violence. They are also leaders: serving as frontline responders, healthcare workers, and community volunteers.

Join leading experts for a discussion on the urgent need for a gender-responsive approach to mitigating COVID-19 and global strategies for effectively addressing the pandemic's impact.
Hosted by The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security in partnership with The LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security; Monash Gender, Peace and Security Centre; The PRIO Centre on Gender, Peace and Security; and The Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre.
Sandra Pepera, Director of Gender, Women, and Democracy at the National Democratic Institute
Sandra Pepera, who is an incredible ally and serves as a strategic advisor to RepresentWomen, had an interesting blog on women leading during the COVID-19 crisis:
It’s an extraordinary time, isn’t it? Women are leading the war against COVID-19. Women like the White House’s Ambassador (Colonel, Doctor) Deborah Birx, who is clear about her target audience (mostly folks like my three millennials); and Mayor Rohey Malick Lowe of Banjul, The Gambia, who has deployed a COVID-19 Sensitization Team of young women and young men across the capital; and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg who gave a coronavirus press conference for kids; and the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure (former Mayor) Patricia de Lille, in South Africa who is finding quarantine sites and recruiting 20,000 public health workers throughout the country. Their assured confidence in taking initiative, acting with resilience, and driving for results - all attributes which the Harvard Business Review scored more highly in women than in men - should not be mistaken for more competent leadership, it is more competent leadership. And like so many women worldwide, some of these leading women also bear the daily brunt of health-, elder- and childcare.
COVID-19 is the latest but not the last global pandemic, and it will require both health and political responses. Neither can be delivered efficiently or effectively, without the voice and agency of the millions of women and girls even now leading the global fight against this disease. In the words of NDI’s Board Chairman, Secretary Madeleine Albright, “women in power raise issues others overlook, invest in projects that others dismiss and seek to end abuses that others ignore.”  Yet, the unprecedented number of women in the forefront is not enough.
There was another COVID-19 story this week related to women's leadership in Canada by Sadiya Ansari in Policy Options:

Of the 14 provincial and national chief medical officers and public health officers, 7 are women including Canada’s chief medical officer, Dr. Theresa Tam. There are also women in public health officer roles in major cities such as Toronto and Ottawa.

Over the past weeks, they’ve been serving Canadians by managing an unprecedented infectious threat while also breaking down complex information under bright lights in demanding daily press conferences that have become appointment television across the country. Tam now appears in national television commercials – a rare platform for a public servant.

Some of the focus on this group of women is frivolous — the frenzy around Alberta’s chief medical health officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s periodic table dress and the Twitter account inspired by Toronto’s Dr. Eileen de Villa’s scarves are just two examples.

But mostly there’s been a deep appreciation for these steady figures in these unsteady times.

“They’re trustworthy figures in a time of great anxiety,” said Dr. Leyla Asadi, an Edmonton-based infectious disease specialist pursuing a PhD in tuberculosis elimination strategies. “I appreciate their technical expertise without it being coloured by political views.”


VoteRunLead is hosting a series of virtual Kitchen Cabinet gathering for candidates, campaign managers, and democracy advocates starting on Saturday, April 4th - sign up here:
Vote Run Lead is providing you with a virtual campaign -- weekly experts to add to your personal "Kitchen Cabinet" all throughout April.
This Saturday, April 4 at 11am est Vote Run Lead presents "Your Kitchen Cabinet: Every Woman's Virtual Campaign Team".
Whether you’re running for office, working on a campaign or protecting our democracy, Vote Run Lead is here for you. Starting this week and running through April, let our experts serve as your personal Kitchen Cabinet. Each week, three “Cabinet Members'' will go online to answer your questions, give your real-time advice and fact-based information.

Join us to hear from top experts from all over the country. Facilitators this week include Erin Vilardi, Pakou Hang, Crystal Patterson, Faith Winter, & Jillia Pessenda!
RepresentWomen's terrific research fellow Maura Reilly created the graphic above to remind all of us how important it is to complete the census and to support organizations that are helping vulnerable communities complete theirs.
Noda Seiko from
Finally, there was a very interesting interview with Noda Seiko about her thoughts on the state of women's representation in Japan and her ambition to become the first woman prime minister:

Noda is realistic enough to understand that the country’s long tradition of male-centered politics will not change overnight. This hard-nosed realism is the result of her many years as a member of the small minority of female politicians within the LDP. Noda has a proud career in national politics that goes back nearly 30 years. She was just 26 when she was elected to the Gifu Prefectural Assembly in 1987 and became a member of the House of Representatives in 1993.

“When I entered politics, it was totally a man’s world. My grandfather was a politician (Noda Uichi, former minister of construction) and people often claim that he ‘chose’ me to follow in his footsteps. In fact, he was adamantly opposed to the idea of my embarking on a political career. I think he was worried about what might happen to me if he let his precious granddaughter launch herself into a world dominated by men.”

A lot of her supporters within the party advised her that if she was set on the idea of a political career she should give up her femininity. “I followed their advice. I gave up trying to look stylish, and made sure that I wore the plainest suits possible, except occasionally during election campaigns.” Tanaka Makiko was another woman elected to the House of Representatives at the same election (originally as an independent and later joining the LDP). But, Noda says with a smile: “Makiko was a bit of a special case as the daughter of a former prime minister. And she was also a lot stronger than most men, so that she wasn’t really interested in joining forces with someone like me!”

That's all for this week.
From my garden to yours,
P.S. Here are some suggested reads for this week from the RepresentWomen team!

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