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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation June 14, 2024

Dear Readers,

Summer brings a wave of possibilities, and at RepresentWomen, we're feeling the excitement! We're seeing a historic rise in women winning international elections, proving that global strategies can offer valuable lessons. Stay tuned for our ongoing coverage of these international races, where we'll delve into the successful systems increasing women's representation worldwide.

This weekend, I will be attending the World Premiere of Majority Rules, a documentary by A.J. Schnack and produced by Unite America that explores Alaska's pioneering approach to election reform. The film dives into how they ditched traditional primaries and embraced ranked choice voting (RCV). This innovative system lets voters rank candidates they prefer, fostering more diverse representation. Alaska's use of RCV is credited with the elections of Representative Mary Peltola, State Senator Cathy Geissel, and Senator Lisa Murkowski, proving its potential to better reflect voters' choices. These three women leaders were featured speakers at the 2024 Democracy Solutions Summit – you can watch their conversation about Alaska’s new system here.

This week, our focus is on global advancements in democracy. We'll explore how the U.S. can learn from Mexico's experience with representative democracy. We'll also examine the ongoing fight for racial equality in the U.S. beyond the Juneteenth celebrations. We'll also delve into the Indian elections and highlight how gender quotas could accelerate women's representation in government. Finally, we celebrate the record-breaking number of women running for office in Northern Ireland!

Women are Front and Center in Mexican Politics. What Can the U.S. Learn?

Credit: RepresentWomen

RepresentWomen’s Fatma Tawfik and Georgina De La Fuente, a democratic and electoral governance specialist based in Mexico City, co-authored an op-ed examining President Claudia Sheinbaum's historic election.

Tawfik and De La Fuente write in Ms. Magazine:

In 2024, women vying for political office at all levels of government have become the norm. This year, the top two contenders for the presidency, who pulled nearly 90 percent of the vote, were women from minority groups. One was a former Mexico City mayor of Jewish descent, and the other a former senator with Indigenous roots. 

The “parity in everything” mandate has also affected unitary offices like governorships. Parties were required to register women candidates in at least five of the nine states holding governor races. As a result, 55 percent of all candidates for governor were women, and two states, Morelos and Guanajuato, held all-women races

Women candidates for both chambers of Congress also outnumbered male candidates, totaling 57 percent, according to data from Instituto Nacional Electoral (INE), Mexico’s national independent elections agency database.

The piece ends with a call to American legislators to advance policy changes improving gender parity for women here in the United States: 

Although there is still a long way to go to achieve substantive gender parity in public life, Mexico’s progress can and should be a valuable lesson to the U.S. Mexico has accomplished what the U.S. has not, including its first woman president and gender-balanced national and local legislatures. The U.S. must recognize Mexico’s work to remove systemic barriers that women face when running.

Juneteenth: A Call to Action for Racial Justice and Unfinished Work of Democracy

Credit: RepresentWomen

Next week is Juneteenth, which celebrates the emancipation from slavery.  A significant celebration in Black American history, Juneteenth highlights the long and ongoing struggle for racial justice and equality in the U.S. It celebrates progress while serving as a reminder that there is still work to do. While society has certainly made strides in the pursuit of equality,  we must commit to further dismantling racially oppressive systems. 

Black women, in particular, face unique struggles when running for elected office. To remove these barriers, we apply an intersectional approach. Check out our brief, Breaking Barriers for Black Women Candidates, to learn more.

Willis Johnson from the Fulcrum discusses:

But perhaps the most vital truth that Juneteenth imparts is that the work of racial justice is never truly done. Observance of Juneteenth should not be an act of complacency but a call to action, a rallying cry to complete the unfinished work of our democracy. As we mark this holiday, we must recommit ourselves to dismantling the systems that still disenfranchise Black Americans, from voter suppression to mass incarceration. We must strive for schools where every child, regardless of color, receives an education that nurtures their potential that sees their worth and dignity. And we must build an economy where the prosperity fueled by Black innovation and labor is equitably shared, where the fruits of freedom are not reserved for the few, but enjoyed by all.

In short, Juneteenth is both a rejoicing and a reckoning. It invites us to revel in the progress forged by generations of Black Americans, even as it illuminates the long road still to be traveled. As we commemorate this sacred day, let us honor its spirit by rededicating ourselves to the unfinished work of a more perfect union — one where the freedom and equality promised that day in 1865 are at last a reality for all. Let us march forward together, our hearts full of hope, our hands full of the tools to build a nation worthy of its highest ideals. For on Juneteenth, we are reminded that freedom is not merely a gift, but a task — one that falls to us, the living, to complete

74 Women Elected in India’s Lok Sabha Elections as Gender Quotas Await Implementation

Credit: RepresentWomen

In the recent Lok Sabha (the lower house of Indian Parliament) elections, 74 women were elected, a slight decrease from 2019.  Notably, West Bengal led with 11 female MPs. A total of 797 women contested in the elections, with the BJP fielding the most at 69, followed by Congress at 41. This was the first election since the passage of the Women's Reservation Bill. Gender quotas have shown to be an effective means of accelerating women's equal representation in government at the local level. 

Gender quotas are a proven way to fast-track women’s equal representation in government. RepresentWomen is eager to see the impact of this bill once it is in effect.

NDTV reports:

This is the first election since the passage of the women's reservation bill in the Parliament to reserve one-third of seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women. The law is yet to come into effect.

According to an analysis by think-tank PRS, 16 per cent of these women MPs are below the age of 40.

The analysis said 41 percent of women MPs (30 MPs) have previously been members of the Lok Sabha. Of the others, one MP has been a member of the Rajya Sabha.

"While there has been a slow increase in the number of women in the Lok Sabha over the years, India still lags behind several countries. For example, 46 percent of MPs in South Africa, 35 percent in the UK, and 29 percent in the US are women," the analysis said.

Record Increase in Women Candidates for Northern Ireland's General Election

Credit: Yui Mok

In the upcoming general election in Northern Ireland, women make up one-third of the candidates across 18 constituencies. This year, there's been a notable increase in participation, with 136 candidates vying for seats, compared to 102 in 2019. Particularly encouraging is the rise in the number of women candidates, which has jumped from 28 to 45 since the last election.

Flávia Gouveia from The Irish News reports:

Women make up one-third of candidates battling it out for your vote across Northern Ireland’s 18 constituencies next month.

136 candidates are contesting next week’s general election, compared to only 102 in 2019.

This year’s candidates include 45 women, up from only 28 in the last general election.

Only the Alliance and the SDLP are contesting in all 18 constituencies.

Global gender gap could take 134 years to close — but 2024 elections offer hope, WEF says

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), closing the global gender gap will take up to 134 years. The Global Gender Gap Report measures gender balance in four areas: economic growth, educational attainment, health, and political empowerment. 

Saadia Zahidi, managing director at WEF, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box”

Saadia Zahidi’s interview with CNBC

This year’s sweeping election cycle could narrow that gap, however, by boosting women’s representation in the political sphere, the non-governmental organization said.

“When so many people are going to polls around the world, and there’s so much change in political systems, there’s an opportunity here to leap forward,” Saadia Zahidi, managing director at WEF, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“We cannot wait until 2158 for parity: the time for decisive action is now,” Zahidi added in a press release.

Read more in this article with CNBC’s Karen Gilchrist

Building a Better Future Together: Partner Events in Action

Join Higher Heights on Thursday, June 27 at 8 pm ET for coverage of the first 2024 Presidential Debate at our Virtual Debate Watch Party & Spin Room!

In the pre-debate conversation, hear from leading Black women experts on what we expect from the candidates. Then, stay with us to watch the debate and stick around for our after-debate analysis. Register here to attend.

Partnerships director Katie Usalis and I attended the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights event this week held at the Spy Museum in Washington, DC.

It was great to see FairVote CEO, Meredith Sumpter & Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights director Maya Wiley at the welcome reception for the new head of Common Cause, Virginia Kase Solomon before dashing over to the Public Citizen gala at the Press Club. I also attended a terrific reception on Thursday night for The States Project that included a number of amazing women state lawmakers – it’s been a busy week for events!

Dive into Summer Reads with RepresentWomen

Credit: Ashley Thurston

We continue highlighting the books the RepresentWomen staff is reading this summer through our summer reading series. Communications Director Ashley Thurston is reading The Gatekeepers by Chris Whipple. This book sheds light on the often-overlooked yet crucial role of White House Chiefs of Staff and takes readers behind the scenes to explore the inner workings of American presidents' administrations through the lens of these powerful figures.

This book offers a fascinating exploration of the intricate relationship between Chiefs of Staff and American presidents. It provides a glimpse into the power dynamics within the White House and underscores the critical role Chiefs of Staff play in shaping the presidency and American politics. What's particularly striking is not only the creation of the role and how it’s changed over time but also the fact that no woman has ever held this esteemed title.

Podcast Palooza: Summer Edition

This summer, RepresentWomen isn't just reading great books; we're also listening to captivating podcasts! Dive into our staff's summer listening recommendations for some relaxation and inspiration. Partnerships Director Katie Usalis shares what she's listening to this summer.

I was looking for new podcasts that are light and interesting, and I found Smartless on a random search. It's hosted by Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett, who are all great friends in real life! The banter is amazing, the guests they interview are top-notch, and getting a good laugh is 100% guaranteed. If you're looking for a mood-lifting podcast as a little escape from this election year, I highly recommend it!

So many new TV show seasons are set to premiere this month! Which ones are you most excited for? Let us know with this ranked choice voting poll!

That's all for this week, enjoy your weekend!



The Fearless Fund ruling threatens the empowerment of Black women entrepreneurs. The appeal stands as a pivotal moment in the fight for racial justice and economic equality. We must protect and advance opportunities for Black women. Read Research Associate Marvelous Maeze's latest op-ed, including an excerpt below to learn more.

Black women have long been at the forefront of the fights for equity and equality. Activists, artists, and political leaders like Angela Davis, Shirley Chisolm, and Audra Lorde used their gifts to advance the social currency of Black women by championing civil rights. Yet, Black women continue to bear a disproportionate burden of socio-economic injustices. Initiatives like those of the Fearless Fund transcend mere inclusivity; they represent a critical step in redressing long-standing grievances to rectify historical inequities.

In RepresentWomen’s 2024 brief, Breaking Barriers for Black Women Candidates, our research found that Black women frequently face insurmountable fundraising barriers when running for political office. Black businesswomen also face unique barriers to accessing capital. These obstacles often stem from false and reductive stereotypes about their capacity and potential for success, hindering their entrepreneurial potential.

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