It's difficult to remain optimistic about the future of women's rights and reproductive rights in the United States following some of President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet choices. Take his anti-abortion and anti-Obamacare health secretary pick Tom Price, for example. But there is something you can do to change things: 2017 is the year women like you should run for office, because now more than ever our voices are needed in politics and policy-making.
More than 4,500 women have signed up to run for office in the little over a month since the presidential election results came out, according to Time. That's impressive, considering how few women compared to men hold elected leadership roles. Only 24.6 percent of U.S. state legislators are women, and even fewer of these posts are held by women of color, Catalyst reported. For instance, according to Forbes, only around 19 percent of all seats in Congress are held by women, and only 6.2 percent overall are held by women of color. Considering women make up half of the country, these figures are astoundingly low.
But organizations like She Should Run, which bills itself as a "national network changing culture to inspire more women and girls to run for office," are helping more women pursue public office. Women can join the She Should Run incubator program, which offers support, guidance, and a community of fellow women leaders to help women on their path to being elected. She Should Run also has an "Ask a Woman to Run" sign-up page, where you can nominate a woman you think should run for office and She Should Run will send her a message that allows her to sign up to learn more.
Some women were ironically inspired to run by office by what they saw as the disappointing results of the election — when Hillary Clinton lost to Trump, Mia Hernández, a 22-year-old University of California at Santa Cruz student, decided to she would be running for either the San Jose City Council or a spot on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in 2020, the Washington Post reported. "Everybody says organize, don’t mourn, make a change," Hernández told the Post. "So I said to myself, ‘How am I going to be an active member in this? You know what, I need to run for office. I need to be a part of that decision-making. I need to make sure Trump’s voice is not the only voice out there.’"
Well said, Mia. In the aftermath of the election, women will need all of the representation we can get. Let's hope that rather than being discouraged, women take Clinton's loss as a call to action.