All around me I see women running, but this is not a marathon. Not in the physical sense at least, I am talking about women running for political office. According to a recent NPR article, groups who work with women in politics report an uptick in interest of women seeking to run for political office since November. Women comprise half of the population, but are highly under-represented at all levels of government. Recently, a New York Times article revealed that “when women run for political office, they are just as likely as men to be elected. The main reason they are so underrepresented is that they don’t run in the first place.” But fortunately the tide is changing.
Why does it matter that women run for political office?
“When women run for office we tend to bring our whole community with us” says Jessica Byrd, founder of Three Point Strategies, a D.C. based political consulting firm that works at the intersection of electoral politics and social justice. “We don’t show up to the ballot box or the meetings alone, we bring the experiences of our families, our schools and our neighbors. A reflective democracy is one where the lived experiences of our leaders matter just as much if not more than if you have a Rolodex full of rich people.”
This got me thinking, if women bring the whole community with them when they participate in the political process, then what is the motivation to inspire more women to run in the future? For that answer I turned to a couple local political candidates to see what inspired them to run.