Cecile Richards, the former president of Planned Parenthood; Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance; and Alicia Garza, a cofounder of Black Lives Matter, are launching a new women's political action group called Supermajority on Monday, with the goal of training and mobilizing women to make change around the issues that impact their lives.
"Women are the majority of voters and the majority of activists," Richards told Refinery29 in an interview on Saturday. "And yet, they continue to be treated as a side issue and a special interest group. It's time that women get the credit and the encouragement they deserve — and we begin to amplify the extraordinary work that women are doing."
Women make up 54% of the electorate, but are underrepresented in every aspect of political life, with the U.S. ranking 78th in the world for women's political representation. In addition, women make on average 80 cents for every dollar compared to their male counterparts, with women of color making less than that. The U.S. is the only industrialized country without federal paid family leave and the maternal mortality rate is rising, especially among women of color. Supermajority plans to tackle these issues and more.
Kicking off its launch with an upcoming party in Washington, D.C., the organization plans to engage and mobilize 2 million women, who will then reach millions more. It's tapping into the existing network of Pantsuit Nation, a Facebook community of 3.5 million led by Libby Chamberlain and Cortney Tunis.
This summer, the group is launching a listening tour, traveling around the country and learning about issues that matter to women. It will use this information to coalesce around a "New Deal" that will serve as the backbone for its advocacy. Some of the issues mentioned in the original press release include everything "from unequal pay, to staggering childcare costs, rising maternal mortality, no family leave, and a government that continues to fail women." These issues, said Richards, are still often dismissed as "women's issues" despite the fact that they have national importance.
"I wish it didn't take the women to address childcare," Richards said. "It's time every male candidate for president is expected to do the same."
Poo said the organizers have already spent over a year talking to women around the country and have seen an "incredible appetite, across generations, across race, to do more and be more active. We talked about what it would take to add oxygen to amplify their voices and transform this moment into a whole new force for the country."
"We're going to be hearing from women on the issues they want to work on," Poo told Refinery29. "We'll be doing education, training, and mobilization to give them tools and support." A big part of the effort is involving women who may otherwise feel isolated in their communities. "We're finding that women cannot continue to take action in isolation and expect to be powerful. Women want to be connected in real life and real time," Garza told Refinery29.
While Supermajority will focus on mobilizing voters for the 2020 primary and general elections, Richards — whose daughter Lily Adams is the communications director for Sen. Kamala Harris — said the group is not ready to endorse a candidate in the 2020 presidential race. She did, however, point out that the media pays a disproportionate amount of attention to the male candidates, partially because more than two-thirds of political reporters are men.
It was important for the cofounders from the outset that the organization is intersectional. "Supermajority is really an organization that aims not to leave any woman behind," said Garza. "That's all intersectionality is. We know that the stakes are really high. We know that women are still not making parity with their male counterparts, but also aren't in parity with their sisters in terms of wages. We are making sure no one gets left behind."
Added Richards: "Women are superheroes, and it's time we talk about it."