Last night I was reminded of an issue I’ve written about here a few times. At WIN’s Women Opening Doors for Women event the keynote speech, given by Sam Bennett, president of the Women’s Campaign Fund focused on women candidates. She not only asked that we all ask women we know to run, and nominate them through She Should Run, but told all of us we should run as well. Of course followed by quiet laughter. Why should any of us run?
There has been a lot of talk lately about male versus female candidates and office holders. Men seek elected office; women end up running in the hopes of improving a situation, their community, state or country. While I don’t believe all men think running for office is a brilliant idea, they are more likely to do it. Women have more hurdles to overcome, and even when they win – they still have to work harder and longer and show more progress to keep their seat. Just like in every other field, women still have to work harder to prove they belong there.
Nearly every female candidate must overcome sexism in an election. After watching Hillary Clinton get comments from the media on her hair and wardrobe, what woman is going to stand up and say: “Yes! I want to do that too!” The problem is not enough women are standing up, are running. So women set up organizations like Women’s Campaign Fund, EMILY’s List, The She Should Run Foundation and WCF PCA, to encourage, train and fund women running for office.
How we do fight back against the sexist comments then and level the playing field? First, female candidates must immediately step up to the camera and say call out the sexism happening. Second, every woman who witnesses it should go to NameItChangeIt.org and report it.
We need more women to run. We need more women to win. If more women were in Congress and state legislatures now would we be facing this war on women? How different the legislative landscape could be, is up to us.
As parting request last night, before everyone headed out to dinner, Sam Bennett asked all of us to do one thing. When we meet a woman running for office, we donate $5. Can you take that on, too? And oh yeah, will you run office?