The “Year of the Woman” is over, election-wise, but now it’s time to start looking at 2012 and how to make it the “Year of Getting Women Elected” instead.
But running as a woman can bring some specific issues specifically for females, especially when it comes to financing your campaign. Sarah Thomson shares some of what she learned as a first time candidate, running for mayor of Toronto, which apply to U.S. races as well.
Via the Toronto Star:
It was an honour to run as a candidate for mayor of Toronto. I encountered many challenges, but I now understand that the biggest hurdle for women in politics is to finance a political campaign.
I went into my campaign thinking that the large network of women I have cultivated over the years would be there to support me. But over my 10-month campaign I learned that women account for less than 20 per cent of all political donations, and when it comes to municipal campaigns that goes down to less than 10 per cent.
Despite the lack of funding, I would run again for mayor in an instant. I was challenged almost every day. I had to adapt quickly, from identifying key neighbourhood issues (often while on stage debating them), to learning how to connect with an audience in one-minute answers. I became a shameless self-promoter and instead of feeling exhausted from the long hours I was inspired by so many people dedicated to making Toronto a better place.
Despite the small size of my team, their good judgment, hard work and strong policy squeaked us into the top three. But we needed the financial support that a strong fundraising team might have provided.
It’s this lack of network and lack of support for women candidates that EMILY’S List is hoping to address with their new “Stand Up And Serve” push.
We need women to run for every office, from the most local on up, to ensure that women’s voices, women’s values, and women’s priorities are represented in every conversation about our communities.
And so we’re calling out to women across the country and saying: Run. Tell your friends to run. Tell us about your friend who should run. Ask us who’s running and needs your support. Make this opportunity your cause. This is how we make sure our numbers are increasing in government, just like they are in board rooms, law school classes, and Fortune 500 lists.
EMILY’s List is here to support women dedicating themselves to service. Are you curious about what it takes to run and serve? Wondering if you could be that candidate – or that campaign manager? Over the next few months, we’re going to pull back the curtain and let you learn from women who’ve done it.
Ready to consider your own run for office? Now is the time, develop your network, find your supporters, and jump in!