March 31 marked the end of International Women’s Month, and what better way to celebrate it than with a conversation about the current state of women in the political world? As much progress as women have made in every sector, politics is one arena where women in general are still sorely underrepresented. And when it comes to women of color, the statistics are, for lack of a better term, downright pathetic. As you can see from the 2012 infographic from the Center For American Progress, our representation numbers are definitely not at all commensurate to their levels of voting participation and/or interest/involvement in national issues.
So what is really going on here, and what can be done about it? On Monday night, I hosted a Google hangout with a group of amazing women who live and breathe politics in various capacities: Delia Garcia, who is a former Kansas House of Representatives member and the Founder of Delia’s List; Pramilah Japayal, a passionate activist for immigration reform, Co-Chair of We Belong Together and current candidate to the Washington State Senate; Kimberly Mitchem-Rasmussen, who after years of working on The White House Project founded the Political Institute for Women focusing on women and girls of color and Melody Gonzales, who is the Presidential Appointments Program Director at the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) and currently manages its Latinas Represent program. I can’t quite fully express the utter brilliance of these women in mere words — You have to watch them talk (and act upon) it on your own!
The amazing conversation touched on the importance of role models, the still-prevalent cultural expectations and unique barriers to entry into politics for women of color, the skills women aspiring to political office must develop, the much-needed work that some organizations, including their own, are doing to identifying, developing and getting more women of color elected into office, and tons more! Watch it in full above or on my YouTube channel, and watch this space for more convos on this topic to come. We’re not done speaking up about this just yet!