By Kim Huynh
Spurred by Congress’s failure to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in 1970, a group of prominent politicians and activists including Gloria Steinem, then Congresswomen Shirley Chisholm and Bella Azbug, and U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Jill Ruckelshaus banded together in 1971 to form the National Women’s Political Caucus.
The goal was to increase women’s participation in all areas of political and public life, and over the course of its 43-year history NWPC has made great strides not only to this end, but also in bringing women’s issues to the political forefront.
Today, the NWPC has expanded to 1,200 member organizations across 18 states with no chapter larger younger, or more diverse in Northern California than NWPC Alameda North. The 120-member NWPC-AN, as it’s known, also currently serves as the largest PAC in California to endorse and contribute solely to female candidates.
Criteria for candidate endorsement is simple: applicants must be female, support the PAC’s bottom-line issues, and be in interested in issues affecting women and children. In the past the debate as to whether the PAC should be able to endorse feminist men has led to heated disputes, resulting in the policy that although male candidates may speak to the organization, they cannot be endorsed.
The organization has endorsed hundreds of candidates over four decades. Two recent examples of NWPC AN’s uplifting effect are Jennifer West, elected to the city council of Emeryville, and Rosie Torres of the Oakland Unified School District. Co-chair Annie Flores says she is immensely proud of her chapter’s great success in helping women outside of the status quo get elected—those “who may have neither the endorsement of Labor nor the support of the establishment because they’re not men, and who enter into the race with one-quarter of the money their male competitors have raised.”
NWPC-AN regularly holds forums on ballot initiatives and endorsement meetings to consider candidates in local races. In addition, the chapter takes on special projects such as clinic defense, voter registration drives, precinct work and staffing campaign offices and phone banks to support its key issues. Its signature event is the annual Susan B. Anthony fundraiser through which the chapter honors women who have made significant contributions in their fields.
“A great source of pride for us has been to see the women’s movement diversify and transcend racial and socioeconomic barriers over time,” Flores states. “We will continue working towards the day our political institutions reflect diversity and gender parity as well.”
For any questions or inquiries about NWPC-AN, please contact Annie Flores at (925) 354-7559, or firstname.lastname@example.org