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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation March 9, 2017


​(Iconic statue of Fearless Girl facing bull installed this week on Wall Street)

My friends,

There were of course many articles and news stories on the celebration of International Women's Day from the both the United States and from around the world. Those in the US reported on the uptick of interest from women in running for office while those from abroad looked at the quota and voting systems used in most nations.

  • Scotland's Sunday Herald asked State of the Nation: Do We Need 50-50 Quotas to Close the Gender Gap? "That quotas can speed up women’s representation is clear. The UK sits, on the most recent gender gap rankings at 20th, behind not only Iceland, Germany and Ireland, but also Rwanda, Namibia and Philippines. One of the areas in which we rank badly is in terms of political representation. On this, a great many other countries in the world beat us – among them, Bolivia and Rwanda, which both have over 50% women in their parliaments. What distinguishes many of these more gender-balanced countries is that they have some kind of legislated quota system"
  • A story on the CBC reports on Canadian student Taya Nabuurs electoral reform speech in the House of Commons which was very well received - she spoke about the value of proportional representation voting systems to increase women's representation: "Electoral reform is a clear and tangible way that we can make steps towards a Canada in which all voices are equally represented," she said. Nabuurs, representing the P.E.I. riding of Cardigan, said extensive research has shown that certain electoral models more effectively promote the election of women to political office."Party list proportional representation systems in particular incentivize parties to run lists of candidates and therefore are the most successful at getting women's names on the ballot," she said. "I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of reforming our electoral system to create the most fair, democratic, and engaging system possible. The fight for electoral reform is not over."  Taya's Twitter handle is @TayaNabuurs I hope you will join me in following and supporting her!
  • Malta Today featured praise of the prime minister's proposed gender quotas "Speaking at a ‘Gvern li Jisma’ listening session at Fort St Elmo, Dalli said that his proposal proves that the Prime Minister is presiding over a feminist administration.“Whenever the the topic of gender quotas is brought up in Malta, it always stirs a lot of debate. However, Muscat knew that if we don’t take action, then a lot of time will have to pass before we have a Parliament that is truly representative of our society. “Society is composed of men and women in equal numbers, but when one looks at Parliament, one would imagine as though only 10% of the public are women.”

  • The Economic Times reported that India Only Setback in Asia for Women's Representation "The data of 193 countries have been compiled in the list in terms of women representation in legislature. India is ranked 148th as only 11.8% women are elected to Parliament. India is far below Saudi Arabia (98th with 19.9%) and Pakistan (89th with 20.6%) in terms of women's representation in parliament. The list quotes Rwanda on top with 61.3% women's representation in its parliament."

  • From Fortune Magazine - The World's Most Powerful Women "Worldwide, the average share of women in parliament last year rose from 22.6% to 23.3%—6.5 points higher than the global average a decade ago. That heartening figure is bolstered by countries’ individual success stories. The tiny island nation of Palau, for instance, saw the greatest number of women elected to parliament in the last 30 years after two female candidates won seats in the lower house. Ireland saw its share of women in parliament surge from 15.1% to 22.2% after all political parties fielded candidate lists that were between 31% and 35% female. In Morocco, 20.5% of seats belonged to women last year—nearly double the share in 2007"

  • The Jordan Times published UN Secretary General ,António Guterres, post Working to Promote Gender Equality, Women's Empowerment "Within the UN, I am establishing a clear roadmap with benchmarks to achieve gender parity across the system, so that our organisation truly represents the people we serve. Previous targets have not been met. Now we must move from ambition to action. On International Women’s Day, let us all pledge to do everything we can to overcome entrenched prejudice, support engagement and activism, and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment."

  • And from VOX - There Are More Women in Parliaments Around the World Than Ever Before:

    "In terms of individual countries, many Nordic nations, such as Sweden, rank high when it comes to women parliamentarians. The highest percentage of women representatives is found in Rwanda, however, where more than half of the total seats in the upper and lower houses of parliament are female. The United States ranks 104th on the list, just ahead of Tajikistan. 


    Although the report gives insight on the level of gender equality in government, it is not necessarily a perfect barometer for the status of women’s rights in these nations. Rwanda, for instance, continues to struggle with a high prevalence of domestic and sexual violence, as well as longstanding patriarchal norms


    There are also varying reasons for the differing levels of women in parliaments, including quota systems that a number of countries have in place to increase female representation. In 2016, nations with gender-based quotas that held elections saw women gain 25.6 percent of seats compared with 16.1 percent of seats in countries without such quotas."

  • This piece from Vox - The US is ranked 104th in women's representation in government does not reveal anything new about why the US ranks so low or any viable strategies to elect more women - it's articles like this that remind me how much work I have to do on messaging around core structural reforms...

I want to draw your particular attention to this unassuming story I found on Ingersoll Rand's commitment to the Paradigm for Parity Coalition which is a "coalition of business leaders dedicated to addressing the leadership gender gap in corporate America."  I had not heard of this effort but it seems like something we want to explore, support, and use as a basis for forming more sophisticated partnerships with the private sector.

The Paradigm for Parity, launched in December 2016, is made up of CEOs, senior executives, founders, board members and business academics committed to achieving a new norm in the corporate world: one in which women and men have equal power, status, and opportunity. The coalition’s ultimate goal is to achieve full gender parity by 2030, with a near-term goal of women holding at least 30 percent of senior roles. To learn more about Ingersoll Rand’s 2020 Sustainability Goals please visit and to learn more about Paradigm for Parity please visit

Speaking of private sector/public sector partnerships, I went to a fabulous event yesterday at the Wilson Center that Gwen Young organized and hosted. Panelists included Tara Giunta (Paul Hastings), Laura Cox Kaplan (formerly of PricewaterhouseCoopers & a one-woman powerhouse), Theresa Peterson (GE), and KayAnn Schoneman (Ketchum). Thank you Gwen!

Gender Avenger has a terrific Who Talks report on women journalists/experts and Media Matters has also tracked the extent that women's voices are part of news programming and panel discussions.

Terrific ally Marianne Schnall had several good pieces published this week including one on Refinery29 and another on CNN - she has also just launched a new website What Will It Take that will no-doubt flourish - it's just a couple days old!

Michelle Whittaker - who has just joined the team at the Democracy Initiative - had a piece on Medium! on women's equity! Thanks for shout out to Rep2020 Michelle!

Next week the Barbara Lee Family Foundation is hosting a webinar: Modern Family: How Women Candidates Can Talk About Politics, Parenting, and Their Personal Lives offers strategies on how women can talk about their family backgrounds and personal lives while connecting with voters. The webinar will be on Tuesday, March 14, from 12 - 1 p.m. ET, and you can sign up here.


I am off to Texas this afternoon for the SXSW festival - we have a panel tomorrow at 12:30 on women's representation, another panel on Monday about the Electoral College & the National Popular Vote, and a talk on Tuesday by FairVote's chair Krist Nonoselic - bona fida rock star turned voting system reform evangelist! Please let me know if you know of folks who are attending with whom I should try and meet!

And it would be great if you could help to spread the word on your social media sites! Thank you!



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