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Girls & Women

5 Kickass Women in US Politics Offer Advice on How to Get Into the Race

Global Citizen’s new series, “Who Run The Gov? Girls!” will chronicle the massive uptick in women running for office, regardless of political party, in the US and around the world, highlighting the candidates and the groups helping them to run, the challenges they face, advice & tips for running, and the results.

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Here’s the truth ladies: there’s not enough of us in office, let alone enough of us running for office.

Politics can be cutthroat, harsh, and time-consuming, and there’s not always a clear career path.

But politics is also extremely also gender-imbalanced, and women running for office is a crucial way to fix that imbalance.  

Today, men in the United States are more than twice as likely as women to have considered running for office. Consequently, women only make up about 19% of Congress, 25% of state legislators, 12% of governors, and around 20% of mayors.

It’s important for young girls to see more women engaged in politics because these women will become the role models they base their hopes, goals, and aspirations off of.

So if you’re considering running for office, but the numbers or the idea seems intimidating, ask yourself if you’re doing everything you can to overcome the barriers, and what difference you might be able to make.  

“I didn’t run to make history,” Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin once said, “I ran to make a difference,”

Here are some insider tips from the pros themselves, the ones who not only ran for office, but ran to win.

1. “Roll up your sleeves and get in the ring,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-MN.

That’s right. It’s time to step up and get involved. Research has shown that women are actually just as likely to win an election as men. Voters have been found to make their decisions based on a candidate’s party, and not gender. So the real issue is that women aren’t running for office in the first place.

Sure, it may be intimidating, but no one said you had to run for president. Interested but wary candidates can start local. These positions may be less daunting than holding federal public office but are still just as important in shaping policies. Resources like Run For Office can help you discover all the upcoming elections in your district, along with details about the application process and deadlines that need to be met.

2. “When people keep telling you that you can't do a thing, you kind of like to try it,” said former Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, R-ME.

It’s going to be hard work. Practice expressing your ideas, sharpen your arguments, and most importantly know your facts and why you’re running in the first place, New York Democratic Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand once explained. People may tell you you’re wrong, you’re ‘not good enough’, you’re not ‘right for the job’ so get ready to fight for this. Running for office takes vision, it takes tenacity, it takes planning and organization, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said.

3. “Ask for help, we’re stronger together,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA

Running for office also takes a team. As Sen. Murray said, no one can do it alone. Find a mentor, ask your family and friends for support, and reach out to organizations and networks like Progressive Chain Campaign Committee, Voto Latino, and EMILY’s List which offer training, services and advice. Since it was founded in 1985, EMILY’s List has helped 23 women get elected to the Senate — including Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren — and 116 to the House, plus 800 at the state and local levels and 12 governors.

4. “Be a problem-solver. Being involved in coalition-building is great for the issue & for getting to know different players,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-WA 7th District.

Politics isn’t always about what you know but who you know. Running for office means creating a network and connecting people from all walks of life. It means attending countless events and talking to constituents, to businesses, and other politicians in order to find solutions to the problems that plague your community.

5. “If you don’t make it the first time, don’t give up. Keep fighting, keep going, you’ll get there,” said Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State.

*Sigh* You heard her. Even if you didn’t get it this time or the time before, who’s to say you can’t try again? You’ll know the routine, you’ll be better prepared for the road ahead, and your resilience will make you a force to be reckoned with.