We live in California – the golden state, and the nation’s leader when it comes to Democratic values – and we believe that the state’s elected leaders should reflect the diversity of its constituents. As self-identified women make up 51% of the population, we need 51% of our elected seats up and down the state to be held by self-identified women in order to reach gender parity. Only then will our policies reflect the diverse needs of all Californians.
Emerge California is dedicated to getting more Democratic self-identified women into elected office by offering comprehensive, top-notch training to self-identified women of all ages and from all communities across the state. Emerge California is intentional in recruiting self-identified women from communities that have been historically underrepresented in politics. That is why over 50% of our alumnae are women of color, thirty alumnae self-identify as LGBTQ+, and each class includes self-identified women from different generations, from generation Z to baby boomers… Our alumnae represent a variety of personal and professional backgrounds, and they all have one thing in common: the desire to serve.
The barriers to entry into politics for self-identified women are still plentiful, even following the Year of the Woman in 2018. Emerge California confronts these barriers by de-mystifying the candidate experience, sharing the techniques and tools necessary to win, and , providing a strong network and sisterhood of women. The track record of the program speaks for itself – since 2003, we have trained over 550 self-identified women, over half of Emerge California alumnae run for office and, when they run, they win nearly 70% of the time. Today, nearly 100 Emerge California alumnae serve in elected or appointed office in the State of California, including Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, State Board of Equalization Chair Malia Cohen, Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon, San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott, Fresno Unified School District Area 4 Trustee Veva Islas, and many more.
But why? The facts speak volumes:
Although there has been progress, there is still a large disparity when it comes to women in positions of political power. We can no longer sit back and allow this to continue. In order to solve this imperative problem, we need to identify why this is happening and take action to force change.
One might think that the public does not want to vote a woman into political power. However, leading theorists believe women simply are not running for office.
Feminist icon Gloria Feldt suggests:
“We’re at a unique place in history – where we’ve blown open the glass ceiling but not yet swept away all the treacherous shards. Though we can find data to support many explanations about why we aren’t at parity in elected office and boardrooms, we simply no longer have compelling justifications not to be taking responsibility to get ourselves there.”
We all know there are plenty of reasons to avoid running for elected office. But it is up to YOU to lead the way and start taking real steps towards progress. A pool of highly qualified Democratic candidates is being left untapped and voiceless as decision-makers. It is our turn.