VoteRunLead Throws Down the Gauntlet for More Women in Office

By Padmini Parthasarathy

We already know that states with more female leaders tend to do better on many economic measures. The downside is, if voting continues at the current rate, men will hold the majority of elected positions for the next 500 years. VoteRunLead is an organization working to #ChangeTheRatio in government. They've partnered with Target and Omidyar Network, a philanthropic foundation, to issue a challenge to the nation: Invite 500,000 women to run for office by 2016.

"We’re going to hurry history by identifying political talent and by building the largest network of women leaders this country has ever seen," says Erin Vilardi, the executive director of VoteRunLead.

Of the nation’s largest 100 cities, only 13 percent have a female mayor. Almost half of all states have never had a female governor.

At the VoteRunLead website, a button welcomes you to "invite a friend to run." The organization harnesses social networks to "fuel women’s ambition for civic leadership."

A 2014 report by Political Parity outlines the pitfalls women face when running for office. There is the underreported, but prevalent threat of violence. Women running for office "can easily become lightning rods for polarized political beliefs and sexism."

Women are also gun shy when it comes to fundraising. A majority of women say that their fear of fundraising would deter them from running.

VoteRunLead’s strategy is pretty straightforward: Invite a lot of women to run, and give them the resources and education to win. VoteRunLead is leveraging their network by having each member invite three qualified women in their lives to run for office. They provide crowd-sourced resources and "Go Run" training programs for women seeking office.

Release the power of women in our democracy!

Image: flickr cc