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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation June 9, 2017


​Hello all,

There were key races on both sides of the Atlantic this week that ground Representation2020's analysis of the structural barriers facing female candidates and the impact of intentional actions to accelerate the race to parity.

Ballotpedia reported on the results of the NJ state legislative primary on Tuesday. While we will not know final outcomes - and how many more women will hold office -  until the general election in November we do know that all of the incumbents who were running won and that:

The primary election on June 6, 2017, featured eight contested primaries: three Democratic races and five Republican races. This was a decrease from 2013, when there were 10 contested primaries: four Democratic races and six Republican races.

A total of four incumbents faced challengers in the 2017 primary elections: two Democrats and two Republicans. Five incumbents did not file for re-election in 2017: two Democrats and three Republicans.

Heading into the general election, Democrats hold a 24-16 majority. Republicans would need to flip five districts in order to take control of the chamber.

At the beginning of 2017, New Jersey was one of 19 states under divided government, with Republicans in control of the governorship and Democrats in control of the legislature. In most statewide elections leading up to the November 2017 elections, however, New Jersey leaned politically to the left.

Women made gains in the parliamentary elections this week in the UK winning 32% of the seats - an increase of 16 seats since 2015 - according to this story from the BBC. Intentional recruitment efforts by the parties are credited with this impressive seat gain. Sam Smethers, whom Susannah Wellford and I met in November in London, was quoted as saying:

The outcome of this election was a surprise to many pollsters, but it has seen more Labour women MPs elected. The Conservative Party has not seen a significant reduction in women MPs despite losing seats.

"But the real story is that progress has stalled. Getting more women in cannot be subject to party political fortunes. As we approach the centenary of women first getting to vote in general elections, we cannot wait for another nine elections to achieve equality.

"We agree with the recommendation of the cross-party Women and Equalities Select Committee that 45% of each party's candidates must be women. The time has come for a legally enforceable target to achieve the radical and sustainable change we need.
This story from i News shows the percentage of female MPs:

​And the percentage of female candidates:

More news this week on progress toward parity in Canada - according to this news story the premier of Quebec is aiming for gender parity in the next provincial election:

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard is hoping to have more women run under his party's banner during the province's next election and hold more positions in political office.

He made the statement during the Quebec Liberal Party's general meeting in Trois-Rivières, Que., Saturday.

Couillard said he plans to present a gender-balanced team of candidates in 2018. During the last general election in 2014, women made up about 30 per cent of Liberal candidates. 

The province's Council on the Status of Women has recommended at least 40 per cent of a party's candidates should be women

Please join us on Monday June 26 to help FairVote celebrate 25 years & the introduction of the Fair Representation Act which will upend the male dominated status quo and fuel the race to parity. While it's not expected to pass in the near future, the Act will help to shape the conversation about the structural reforms needed to win parity.
The Fair Representation Act is the most comprehensive approach to improving Congressional elections in American history. It creates a fair, national standard that empowers voters and ensures competition in every state. It returns power to the voters.

This Act would eliminate the ability of politicians to gerrymander the U.S. House, and would replace today’s map of safe red and blue seats with larger districts that elect up to five members. Voters of all political opinions will have the power to elect House members who share their views – and have real electoral incentives to work effectively with others in Congress.


Under the Fair Representation Act, House members will be elected by ranked choice voting in new, multi-winner districts. In every state electing more than two members, at least three-quarters of voters are nearly certain to elect a candidate they support.


Smaller states that currently have five or fewer members will all elect all of them from one statewide, at-large district. States with more than six members would draw multi-winner districts of three or five members. Larger districts are nearly impossible to gerrymander for political advantage – and force politicians to seek out voters and remain accountable to them.

A generous donor has pledged to give Representation2020 a $5,000 donation for important messaging work if we can match that amount in the next two weeks! Please consider a generous contribution to help us reach this goal!

Finally, Sunday June 11 would be Jeannette Rankin's 137th birthday. She was the first woman elected to Congress - and also the first to be gerrymandered out of her seat after just one term. I suspect she'd be at the forefront of the movement for gender parity and probably shocked that the United States lags behind 100 nations in the representation of women in Congress...

All the best for a marvelous weekend,


I will be spending much of this weekend weeding & reading in my garden...

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