Following a devastating presidential election last year, women have surged in political activism across the country (Image via Medium)
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Following a devastating presidential election last year, women have surged in political activism across the country (Image via Medium)

Women make up nearly 50.8 percent of the population, yet they only account for 19.6 percent of the U.S. Congress. What gives?

Since Hillary Clinton’s devastating loss in the 2016 election, there has been a renewed interest for women in politics and women running for politics. Emily’s List reported in March that over then thousand women reached out to them about running for office, a number bigger than the number of women who reached out during the entire 2016 election cycle, from January 2015 to November 2016. And Emily’s List is just one of many organizations out there that is helping women run for office. Below are eight institutions helping create a world with a more equal representation of the genders in office.

1. Emily’s List

The name of this organization is actually an acronym for “Early Money Is Like Yeast” (i.e., it makes the dough rise). Their reasoning behind this unique name is that it’s a reference to a convention of political fundraising that receiving major donations early in a race is helpful in attracting other, later donors.

Emily’s List helps Democratic women run for office by recruiting women and building winning campaigns at every level of government. Since their founding in 1985, they have helped elect twelve governors, twenty-three senators, one hundred and sixteen House representatives and over eight hundred women to state and local office. Emily’s List also hosts candidate trainings for women who want to run for office and conducts research about women’s political views and voting behaviors.

2. She Should Run

She Should Run is a relatively newer organization that helps women run for office. Founded in 2011, the organization has inspired over fifteen thousand women to run for office since the 2016 election. She Should Run has also launched an initiative called #250Kby2030 that strives to get two hundred and fifty thousand women to run for office by 2030.

She Should Run accepts women of all political ideologies, ethnicities and backgrounds. Through its Ask a Woman to Run tool, people can let She Should Run know about great women leaders who they think should run for office. She Should Run also has an Incubator that offers online resources for women and goes to cities for in-person and virtual sessions, Chicago being the next city it’ll be in.

3. National Women’s Political Caucus

Founded in 1971, the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC) is another organization whose focus is electing progressive, pro-choice women to office. The NWPC has chapters in sixteen states and new chapters developing in ten more.

The NWPC offers twenty-five different training programs for women, which cover subjects such as time management, confidence building and online fundraising. They also have a series on how to conduct training sessions for members who are designing their own training course. NWPC has a parity PAC (political action committee), which helps their endorsed clients with their campaigns that people donate to.

4. Women’s Campaign Fund

Women’s Campaign Fund (WCF), founded in 1974, is a bipartisan organization that strives to elect women of all political ideologies and ethnicities. WCF-endorsed candidates include Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA 43rd District) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (Image via Washington Post)

WCF offers resources in four areas: expertise, muscle, visibility and resources that range from tip sheets to trainings to individual consultations. They also offer a weekly news brief that covers the news surrounding women in politics. Lastly, WCF is another organization that has a PAC and you can contribute to it here. WCF is best for women who want individualized support when running for office and managing a campaign.

5. Ignite

Ignite—founded in 2010 and non-partisan—is probably the most college-related organization on this list, as they have college chapters all around the U.S. These student-run chapters support political activism by encouraging others in their community to register to vote. Ignite also has high school programs in California and Texas and gives high schools the opportunity to license their curriculum to bring non-partisan political activism to their school. Fellowships are offered to students, which are used to launch regional Ignite chapters and gain leadership skills.

Ignite also has a program that guides parents in empowering their daughters. The organization also offers political leadership conferences around the U.S., with the next two being held in New York City, New York and Denton, Texas.

6. Running Start

Founded in 2007, Running Start is a non-partisan organization specializing in supporting high school and college women. Their Young Women’s Political Leadership Program helps young women in high school develop leadership skills and expand their political interests. Running Start caters to college women with their Running Start/Walmart Star Fellowship, which brings fourteen college women to D.C. to learn first-hand about politics.

Running Start also hosts a political summit that brings women together to learn about leadership and gain political connections; this event is open to women as young as fifteen and over thirty-five. Women can also sign up to be mentors, in which they support and guide other women through their political journey.

7. Victory Institute

While not strictly reserved for supporting women, the Victory Institute is an organization focused on LGBTQI clients, with the mission of helping those who identify as LGBTQI run for political office. Founded in 1993, the Victory Institute has internship and fellowship programs that allow people to work in the U.S. Capitol, undergo candidate & campaign training or take advanced leadership training.

The Victory Institute also has international efforts at work in the Balkans, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Honduras, India, Peru and South Africa to increase the participation of LGBTQI people in politics, thus advancing equality. Lastly, the Victory Institute holds an International LGBTQI Leaders Conference encompassing three days of training, skills building and networking.

8. National Federation of Republican Women

Founded in 1938, the National Federation of Republican Women is the oldest on this list with tens of thousands of members across the nation. Notable members of this organization include current U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, current U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Lisa Murkowski, one of two senators from Alaska.

The NFRW has an extensive list of programs, including scholarships, leadership development, internships and campaign help for women running for office. The group also hosts their Biennial Convention, which allows Republican women to come together to network, get training to help them become better leaders and campaigners and hear from Republican elected officials and leaders.

Deciding whether to run for political office as a woman can be a daunting decision, but with all the organizations and resources available to every kind of candidate out there, running for office is probably easier than ever. With these organizations’ demographics ranging from high school to middle-aged, women of all ages and races can run and hopefully win political office.

Writer Profile

Lizzy Spangler

University of North Texas
Digital and Print Journalism

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