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Emerge America: Giving Women a Voice in Government

Do you feel like your government is working for you? Do you feel like you are being represented? If you are a woman, your answer may be “no.” This is due, in part, to the fact that women are highly underrepresented in government at all levels.

Women only make up around 19 percent of Congress and around 25 percent of all state legislators. Of the 50 U.S. Governors, only 4 are women. Ranking 104th in the world, the United States is behind China, Pakistan, and Mexico in the number of women holding office in national legislature.

Since women make up more than half the U.S. population, the number of female government workers clearly does not represent the country well.

How can we go about changing these statistics? The answer to this pressing question may very well be found in the organization Emerge America. Emerge America is helping Democratic women get into public office. Through a seven-month, in-depth training program, the organization teaches a group of inspiring leaders how to run for and hold elected official positions.

Since the creation of the program in 2002, Emerge America has trained more than 2,000 Democratic women on how to effectively run for office. The program has seen tremendous success, with over 50 percent of those women going on to run for public office. 70 percent of the program’s alumnae who were on the ballot in November 2016 won their elections.

Emerge America trains women in small cohorts, giving the women a network of support in their own state. Anne Wakabayashi, the executive director of Emerge Pennsylvania, which is an affiliate of Emerge America, said the cohorts help the women pull each other up and provide encouragement to one another.

“A lot of times, we’ve lost women who were first-time candidates, had a horrible experience and won’t run again,” Wakabayashi stated in an interview with Generosity. She added, “Emerge offers a network of women who are like, ‘Hey, tough loss, but we’ve all been there, we feel your pain. Get up, we’re gonna keep fighting.’”

Emerge Pennsylvania just had its first cohort last year and it has already experienced a huge success. Carolyn Comitta unseated Republican Dan Truitt in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives representing the 156th Legislative District.

Some of the training provided to women in Emerge America includes public speaking, fundraising, campaign strategy, field operations, networking, and ethical leadership. The Emerge training team is made up of campaign consultants and advisors from all over the nation who have previously worked on successful campaigns.

It is important for women to get involved and to have their voices heard on issues that matter to them. According to Emerge America’s website, one of the many reasons for women to get involved in government is that “Studies have shown women in elected office overwhelmingly support and push forward democratic principles like equality and fairness.”

Emerge America currently has programs in 18 states. When the organization launches a new state program, it builds a strong organization by leveraging from the experiences of female officials and Democratic leaders of that state. Seven states, including New York, are currently in the pipeline on their way to getting Emerge programs.

Featured Image by Gage Skidmore on Flickr
Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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