Barack Obama is getting on the Elect More Women train and with good reason. During a speech in France this past Saturday, the former president said we should be putting more women in positions of power "because men seem to be having some problems these days."
He added, "Not to generalize, but women seem to have a better capacity than men do, partly because of their socialization."
Obama didn't name any names, but it's not too difficult to imagine what was he referring to: The Democratic Party is struggling to deal with the sexual misconduct accusations against Sen. Al Franken, Reps. John Conyers, and Ruben Kihuen. On the Republican side, we've also seen serious allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, Rep. Blake Farenthold, and President Donald Trump himself. And that's without taking into account the number of politicians that have come under fire for sexual harassment and misconduct in state legislatures across the country.
"President Obama is 100% correct. What we've known for decades at EMILY's List is that we need women at the table if we want real change," Christina Reynolds, the organization's vice president of communications, told Refinery29. "Women deserve better than a status quo that has failed them for centuries - which is why we're fighting to elect a wave of powerful Democratic women to office all across the country."
Right now, women make up 19.6% of Congress, occupy 23.7% of statewide executive offices such as governor, and are 24.9% of all state legislators. It's especially egregious, considering women make up almost 51% of the U.S. population. At the current rate, we won't see gender parity in politics until 2117 — yes, an entire century.
There's definitely benefits to electing more women to public office: Research shows they're more likely to collaborate across party lines, use a democratic leadership style instead of men's autocratic one, and push forward legislation on topics that men don't dwell in as much — such as civil rights, health, and education. When it comes down to it, having more female representation in politics is better for everyone, not just women.
"Men can learn the correct positions on women's issues, but can never truly understand our needs because that can only come from living the challenges women face every day," Cathy Myers, a Democrat vying for House Speaker Paul Ryan's seat, told Refinery29. "Qualified women are ready to take their rightful place in Congress, but my experience running against Paul Ryan shows that the political establishment still has a lot of work to do to provide women with the same opportunities as less qualified men."
This past November, women were the true winners of the 2017 election, with a new crop of diverse candidates making history up and down the ballot. And hopefully, in next year's midterm elections voters will follow this trend and elect even more women to public office — the future of the country depends on it.
"If there were more women in positions of power, we would not have just given corporations a tax cut at the expense of working families, and sexual harassment would not be more prevalent in our workplaces than paid family leave," Gretchen Whitmer, who is running for governor of Michigan, told Refinery29. "If we had more women in boardrooms, we would not have benefits that cover erectile dysfunction medication but do not cover child care. In Michigan, if there were more moms in government, we would not have a city full of families that still cannot drink their tap water. "
She added, "As a woman who has been harassed in many jobs — from waitress to caucus leader — I have had a lot of tough conversations with my daughters in recent days. Across the country, the groundswell of women stepping up, speaking out, running for office, and winning is driving a real culture change. Women’s experience living with the consequences of policy decisions bring a different and much-needed perspective to our policy-making that improves the lives of all the people they serve."