Looking for the best life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness? Include women.

elections inclusion women Jan 30, 2019

It’s a familiar feeling for women in these United States. We live in the best of times, we live in the worst of times. We live with a president who shows little respect for women. We see violence and division grow each day.

But then we see the faces of the winners in the 2018 mid-term elections and oh!  We are so powerful--we are making the changes. 

Women made history in this week’s elections: Our new U.S. Congress will have more women than ever before in the history of our nation.

Great, right? So how many of our 535 seats available will now go to women? Half--the percentage of women in the country--would be 267. 

But the best we've ever done is more like 22 percent

Results are still coming in, but we know it will be at least 118—up from the previous high of 107.  

It’s great! We are right to celebrate our progress. It’s also not enough.

If the numbers were to reflect the composition of our country, half women and half men, we’d have 267 of the 535 seats represented by women.

We have come a long way, baby. But there’s just so far to go.

The direction of our collective progress is exciting. I have been verklempt at the beauty and promise of the women—black women, brown women, Muslim women, Native women, lesbian women, young women—who make up this new wave representing people across the country.

The Senate and the House of Representatives decides how we spend our money and what is most important in our country. These institutions were set up by and still run mostly by white guys. Same story in business—the other power center of our country.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with white guys. But there is much wrong with concentrating power and decision-making into one group. Even if we could trust (we can’t) that a single group would work to see the whole and act in its interest, the fact is shown again and again: we don’t know what we don’t know and haven’t experienced. We need voices and perspectives and ideas from many backgrounds to create our best thinking and decision-making. For the good of the whole. We cannot form a more perfect union while leaving a full half of it underrepresented.

Study after study has shown: when we include women in decision-making, we get better decisions that benefit the whole of our communities. We need this now as our country is so divided. Also, as women gain more power, there is more attempt to slap them down than ever before.

We need more women leaders not because women are better than men, but because women are different than men. Women bring a broader perspective to the conversation and to decision making than is possible with just men alone. When women are included in leadership, companies do better. When women are representing an area, women’s health is likely to be better served.

When women win, we all win. 

Pew Research Center’s Women in Leadership 2018 study shows that a full 59 percent of people want more women in leadership positions both in politics and in business. But here, as in so many other issues, we are divided by political party about whether we need more women in these powerful, course-setting positions.

It is a simultaneously brutal and hopeful time to be a woman in the United States. We are more powerful than ever and yet we are still fighting for basic decency towards women from the highest offices of our land. The more women who fill these offices, the more decency toward women—and the whole of our society—will be the norm.

We must keep going. I am so grateful to the women stepping forward, facing all kinds of hardship to do this work. I stand beside you.

A note to my fellow white women citizens: it is time for you to put fear and division aside and stand against politicians espousing or promoting anything less than full respect—in word and deed—for women.  

We can each commit to our part. Today, be good to your women: whether that’s yourself, your friend, your daughter, your mother, your wife, your lover, your ex, or your colleague, your boss, your store clerk, your lawyer, your teacher. Listen to her, include her in decisions, and honor her voice.  

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