Co-Authored by: Stephanie Schriock, President, EMILY’s List & Amy Dacey, Executive Director, EMILY’s List
Today, EMILY’s List is heading to California to support an amazing woman — Sharmin Bock, who’s making an historic bid for San Francisco District Attorney. Along with being a tough candidate and dynamic leader, Sharmin would be the first American of Iranian descent to serve as District Attorney anywhere in the United States.
And she would follow another woman known for a few “firsts” of her own.
Kamala Harris held the position of San Francisco DA before she became California Attorney General last year. And she broke through a number of ceilings to do it — are you ready for the list? — Kamala is the first female, African-American, and Asian-American Attorney General in California, as well as the first South Asian-American Attorney General anywhere in the United States.
Usually when we say “trailblazer,” we think of one person forging ahead where no one has gone before. But the point of making a trail is so others can follow. And that’s what we’re seeing in California right now.
We both have worked on a lot of campaigns — all over the country. And we know how much work goes into just making the decision to run.
EMILY’s List was founded as an organization to support pro-choice Democratic women over 25 years ago — and that means fundraising, for sure, but it also means recruiting and training. The idea was to find women who should run, help make it possible for them to become successful candidates, and once they had won office, help them move up the ladder — finding another woman to take their place.
It’s this concept of a pipeline in action that we’re seeing right now in California. Kamala Harris was a trailblazer, and she left a path for other women to follow.
You may have noticed that there are a lot of women running this year. That’s happening for a few reasons: because the terrible anti-woman Republican agenda has inspired women to fight back, because the open seats being created by the redistricting process mean women have more opportunities to run, and finally, because the pipeline EMILY’s List started cultivating a quarter century ago is working.
Some have speculated that 2012 will be the next “Year of the Woman,” and at EMILY’s List, we think that doesn’t go far enough. We need to make sure women are ready to take advantage of the opportunities that come up and down the ballot. We need to make sure the pipeline keeps moving.
All over America, women are moving up the political ladder, and more women are right behind them to take their places. 2012 could be historic for women, and we’re making sure the work we do this year doesn’t end on Election Day. We want the next year to be historic, too. And the year after that.
One fine day, we won’t need to catalog “firsts.” That designation will be happily obsolete. But until then, help us keep the pipeline moving, so women like Kamala and Sharmin can keep running, and winning, and then running again. It’s the only way we’re going to make real progress.
Photo from Sharmin Bock 2011 via flickr