Recently Ann Friedman wrote
about widening the base of women that run for office. Today at the DNC,
The White House Project, She Should Run (a pro-choice recruiting
organization), and some other girl-friendly organizations put on a
forum called "Unconventional Women." The mission of the day seemed to be to inspire women, especially young women, to run for public office.
On a set that looks like the set for a talk show on Lifetime, two
freshman senators, Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
spoke with Donna Brazile about women who run for office. Each shared
amusing anecdotes about what it’s like to be a woman in the Senate.
McCaskill noted that when she was first elected to state legislature in
the 1980s and went to choose furniture for her office, she was told
"you’re going to have to bring something from your boss’ office," as in
a letter of permission. Klobuchar talked about her husband, active in
the Senate spouses club, who she once caught carrying a pink box on the
way to Hong Le Webb’s baby shower.
Amusing anecdotes aside, the women on stage dispensed advice to
young women in the audience, like not to be intimidated and preparing
oneself for ready for "smears." Later, congresswomen touted legislation
like Lily Ledbetter Paycheck Fairness Act and the Family Medical Leave
Act. Piper Coell, a 23-year-old woman who works for a progressive
organization, said when I asked her if she would run for office
someday, "I hope so!"
In the end, the mission is about creating a pipeline for women to
run for office. Until more women get into office, the chances of women
prioritizing reproductive health or gender equity in legislation is
much harder to achieve.