This Senator Wants More Women In Government, And She's Doing More Than Just Tweeting About It

"Imagine if half of Congress was women."

It's unfortunate that we have to use our imaginations to picture a United States where half of all elected officials are women. According to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), although there are more women in Congress than ever, they still account for less than 20 percent of the legislature. The numbers don't improve much when you look at other elected officials like mayors, governors, and state lawmakers.


Sen. Kirsten Gillibrandwants to change that. "Imagine if half of Congress was women," the Democrat from New York recently requested of her Twitter followers. "If half of all mayors and governors were women. Imagine what could get done."

Gillibrand's tweet soon went viral, earning more than 21,000 retweets as of this writing.

Not only would a more equal gender balance ensure that government better reflects the population it serves ("Last time I checked we make up over half the population," actress June Diane Raphael, who is writing a handbook for women running for office, said earlier this year), but research suggests that better female representation really can lead to change.

Gillibrand with two of her colleagues: Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

A study by MoveHub, for example, found a correlation, on a state level, between women's representation in public office and women's quality of life with regard to issues such as equal pay and reproductive rights. At a time when women's rights are continuously threatened — from both sides of the aisle — ensuring that more women have a seat at the table is crucial.

Many Twitter users agreed with Gillibrand's comment, with one even pointing out other countries (such as Canada, Iceland, and Sweden) that have already achieved greater gender parity in politics. French President Emmanuel Macron also recently filled half his cabinet with women.

The good news is how many initiatives are working to make Gillibrand's hope for the United States a reality. In April, EMILY's List, an organization which helps pro-choice Democratic women get elected to public office, reported that it had heard from 11,000 women this year who are interested in running for office around the country — a marked increase from last year's election cycle, when only 900 expressed interest.

Organizations such as VoteRunLead and SheShouldRun are also working to encourage more women to run for office, and Sen. Gillbrand herself has an organization called Off the Sidelines, a "call to action to encourage every woman and girl to make their voice heard on the issues they care about."

Gillibrand herself is proof of just how much women can get done when they're given the proper platforms. She's already fought for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," co-sponsored the DREAM Act, and worked to tackle military sexual assault. CNN also reports that the senator has introduced a universal paid family leave bill every year for the past five years.

While Gillibrand reportedly said in May of this year that she is "ruling out" a 2020 presidential run, she's clearly making a difference from her place in the Senate. Here's hoping more women will be inspired to follow her lead.

Cover image courtesy of the senator's website.

"Kirsten believes that if more women are elected to office and have a seat at the decision-making table, the outcomes will be better," reads the organization's website, adding that it has raised millions of dollars for female candidates since its launch in 2011. 

Of course, as some users pointed out, the fight for a more equal government shouldn't stop with women. People of color, LGBTQ people, and other groups should also be properly represented.


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