Women and Government
Where are the female leaders in politics?
- Out of over 180 countries, only 11 have elected women heads of state.
- 16% of members of national parliaments worldwide are women.
- In the current Congress, only 16% of seats are held by women. The U.S. ranks #69 among countries with the highest percentage of women in government. Countries that have a higher percentage of women include countries such as Tajikistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Uganda.
- Rwanda has the highest proportion of women parliamentarians in the world - 49%.
- In 1893, New Zealand became the first nation to grant women full voting rights.
- In the 21st century, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that does not have universal suffrage.
- The current Speaker of the House, Speaker Pelosi, is the highest ranking woman in the history of the U.S. Government. No woman has ever been as close in line to the U.S. presidency.
- There has only been one woman of color elected to the Senate. Carol Moseley Braun (D-IL) was elected to the Senate in 1992 and she lost her re-election bid in 1998 by 4% of the vote.
- As of 2007, women accounted for 28% of the Connecticut Congress.
- Connecticut ranks 15th in the United States for percentage of women in state congress.
* Sources: Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University and the White House Project
WHY WOMEN SHOULD VOTE
Our government is making decisions every day that affect women's lives. But our leaders' priorities often don't match women's priorities.
1) Women face unequal pay for equal work, earning on average only 77¢ for every dollar earned by men-and African American women and Latinas fare even worse-but bills to strengthen the laws against discrimination have gone nowhere.
2) Funds have been cut for student loans, Medicaid and child support enforcement-and 250,000 children have lost federal child care assistance since 2000, a number that is climbing.
3) Social Security is threatened by tax cuts and efforts to "privatize" the system. Women are especially dependent on Social Security's guaranteed, lifetime benefits.
4) Women lack health insurance that meets their needs. 17 million women in the U.S. have no health insurance at
all, and one in every five women reports that she did not fill a prescription last
year because of cost. But some leaders in Washington have promoted insurance plans
that shift costs onto the consumer,
pushed to reduce benefits, and created a prescription drug program that makes the lowest income seniors and people with disabilities worse off than they were before the law passed.
5) Women struggle to manage family and work responsibilities. Most women with young children work outside the home, and working parents are working increasingly long hours. Paid family and medical leave and access to quality, affordable child care are often unavailable, but Congress has failed to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act or adequately fund child care.
6) Funds for student loans are getting cut. Congress passed a law that will cut federal student loan programs by $12.7 billion over 5 years, Pell Grants are paying for a smaller and smaller share of college costs, and the President's budget proposes additional education cuts of 29% for next year.
7) Women's ability to control their reproductive lives and health is under attack. Roe v. Wade is in danger of being overturned because of new judges on the Supreme Court, confirmed by a majority in the Senate.
8) Birth control is also under attack, with family planning programs under-funded, pharmacists refusing to fill birth control prescriptions, and the FDA delaying for over three years a decision to allow the morning-after pill to be sold without a prescription even though its own experts found that it's safe.
* Source: National Women's Law Center
For more information, click on the links below.
Project Vote Smart, a citizen's organization, has developed a Voter's Self-Defense System to provide you with the necessary tools to self-govern effectively: abundant, accurate, unbiased and relevant information. As a national library of factual information, Project Vote Smart covers your candidates and elected officials in five basic categories: biographical information, issue positions, voting records, campaign finances and interest group ratings.
Launched by the League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF) in October of 2006, VOTE411.org is a "one-stop-shop" for election related information. This website offers information regarding absentee voting, ballot measures, candidate information, election dates and much more!
The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) is a university-based research, education and public service center. Its mission is to promote greater knowledge and understanding about women's participation in politics and government and to enhance women's influence and leadership in public life. Learn more about our program areas.
The White House Project, a national, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization (501c3), aims to advance women's leadership in all communities and sectors, up to the U.S. presidency. By filling the leadership pipeline with a richly diverse, critical mass of women, we make American institutions, businesses and government truly representative. Through multi-platform programs, The White House Project creates a culture where America's most valuable untapped resource-women-can succeed in all realms.
Girls in Government is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, education and advocacy organization dedicated to encouraging girls of all ages to accept leadership roles, participate in political life, and pledge their commitment to the advancement of justice and democracy. The website offers many resources for girls, including Women Who Rule, Girls Who Rule, polls, and quizzes.
What can you do to make a difference?
1) Call, e-mail, or write to your Senators and Representatives. To find your representatives by your zip code, click the link below.
2) Be an informed voter. Check out Vote 411 for information on: Absentee voting, ballot measures, candidate information, election dates and much more! Click the link below.