Women Take a Seat

By Catherine Adams Lee

Re-posted from Catherine Adams Lee’s Blog

blogathonBest way to spend an evening? Share ideas, stories and experiences with a great group of people. Congratulations to close the gap ca and Planned Parenthood Mar Monte for bringing together great women for a great cause – increase the number of progressive women in the California Legislature.

Here are some stats I learned last night:

  • Women only hold 26% of the California Legislature seats but are over 50% of the population, and that number is declining.
  • 57 seats will be open on account of changes to term limits laws in 2012, which means nearly half the seats in the state legislature will come open in the 2014 or 2016 elections. This is opportunity now.
  • Women often wait to be asked to run rather than self nominate. So start asking them.
  • Women win elections as often as men, they just don’t run as frequently. Let’s break this pattern.

take a seat

Why should we have more women in politics?
We had two former legislators open our eyes, Liz Figueroa, former CA State Senator and Assembly member, and Sally Lieber, former CA State Assembly member. Women are more focused on policy than politics and women initiate legislation from a women’s perspective for women. Examples, such as these bills: Stopping pelvic exams in teaching hospitals on women who are unconscious and unable to give their consent; Stopping female genital mutilation; Against human trafficking; Against women prisoners having to turn in their used feminine hygiene products before they can get a fresh one; Against shackling both arms of women prisoners to the bed while in labor. All bills brought to the floor by women. My mouth was agape! You mean we had to pass legislation so these atrocities can be considered horrible, illegal and prosecutable?!

Women legislators help men too.
Both legislators shared stories and experiences of being approached by numerous male constituents during their term who needed help on family matters for which they were unable, or reluctant, to go to male legislators. As Liz commented, “Constituents are often more likely and able to talk to women about their personal issues than a man”.

Why be a woman in the CA state legislature?
“Women who go to Sacramento have such a chance to make a difference,” said Sally. The California state legislature is the largest in the country. We have the most resources, dedicated staffs and are full time. Did you know some states only meet once every two years!? Women can become committee chairs (rare when women get to the US Congress). California’s legislation has not only influenced, but actually become the basis for federal legislation, such as the ‘do not call’ act first carried by Liz in CA. We have her to thank for the peace and quiet at the dinner table and no more telemarketing robocalls, both state-wide and nationally.

Women do make a difference.
How you can help.

Editor’s note: We had a social media meetup, aka #ctgtweetup on Sept 10, 2013 with Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, co-hosts Glennia Campbell, Jill Asher, Stefania Pomponi and other bloggers. Thanks to Catherine Adams Lee, one of the participants, for this recap.

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