A little over a year ago, protesters flooded cities and towns across the country and around the world chanting: “Hear Our Voice.” The demonstration, dubbed the Women’s March, stood for much more than just women’s rights. Protesters marched to protect reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, civil rights, immigrant rights, environmental justice and ending violence through peaceful, nonpartisan protests.
The 2017 Women’s March became the largest single-day protest in U.S. history with estimates topping more than 3 million in the States alone. This year, the Women’s March took to the streets again, but this time the message was different: “First we MARCH, then we VOTE.”
With the 2018 midterm elections looming large, pressure is rising to funnel the energy around the Women’s March and other female empowerment movements we’ve seen over the last year into action. Namely, electing more women to office. Already, we are seeing the power of that call, with record numbers of women signing up to claim their seat at the table – as many as 439 women are predicted to run for Congress in 2018 alone. In a world of 50/50, we will no longer put up with 80/20.
Across the county, organizations like Emily’s List, the Women’s Campaign Fund (WCF), and the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC) are actively engaged in ensuring that when these fearless women step up to the plate, they have the support network and resources needed to launch a successful campaign. Women are coming together like never before, around #metoo and #timesup, and driven by an overwhelming desire to change the system and make their voices heard. But, can we translate the #powertothepolls rallying cry into victories in November?
The answer is yes. As the Director of Operations for the LA Westside Chapter of the NWPC and a member of our state board, I am working every day to train, support and elect women to office here in our city and across the state. As candidates for elected office, women face unique hurdles, including party support, favorability to incumbents and insiders, balancing family life, and of course, fundraising, perhaps the biggest barrier. Our goal is, through our network of support, work to equalize the playing field as much as possible, through financial contributions and the weight of our endorsement. We know that when women run, women win – they just need the right tools.
The Women’s March is part of a larger effort to ensure equality and equal representation for communities across the country. But this must begin with those who make laws in our towns, cities, states and in Washington. It’s not enough to just protest. If we want to feel real change, we must get to the polls and see it through.