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Opinion: When women run for office and win, we all win

  

As Tuesday’s election looms, I have frequent flashbacks to the night of the 2018 midterms. I watched as Missouri’s first elected female U.S. Senator, Claire McCaskill, lost re-election. That same night, Nicole Galloway narrowly won her election for state Auditor, making her the only woman elected statewide in Missouri. I witnessed progress wax and wane in real time. It was a familiar feeling.

Growing up in southwestern Missouri meant women leaders weren’t always visible. Our male-dominated state government and legislature, not to mention our even more dismally monolithic local councils and boards, aren’t representative of our state’s population. We need more inclusive and equitable community leaders, which means we need more women in office.

Amanda Morrison

I started Missouri M.A.D.E.: Mobilizing And Diversifying Elections in June 2018. This non-profit, non-partisan organization identifies, recruits and trains Missouri women to run for public office at local, state, and federal levels. We hosted our first-ever leadership summit virtually this past July, and the hunger for bright and bold women leaders could not be more clear. Our recently-released Missouri Women Election Guide highlights the women running for statewide, congressional, and state legislative offices on Tuesday’s ballot. This guide reflects the potential for a more representative government in Missouri. And that’s the goal our team works toward every day with events, resource guides, and training programs.

When women run for public office, it sends a clear message to other women, especially young women, that they belong in places where policy is made. This visibility can serve as a motivator to the next generation of candidates. As activist Alicia Garza writes, “Representation isn’t everything, but it’s also not nothing.” Representation is not the be all, end all of progress, but it does indeed matter.

Representation doesn’t just matter because seeing women in office benefits women. Women legislators sponsor and pass more bills than their male counterparts. They’re often more collaborative and bipartisan and bring home 9 percent more funding to their home districts. One Vanderbilt University study even went so far as to say that women are more effective legislators than men. It’s clear that women legislators know how to get things done. And in a world where politics often feels stagnant, this difference is important.

Maybe you’re still deciding how to cast your ballot on Tuesday. More often than not, electing women nets positive benefits for our communities. This is even more true when we elect marginalized women, such as Black, trans, poor, rural, or LGBTQ+ women to office. Their election speaks volumes that these voices will no longer be excluded from the halls of Capitols.

As I like to say, when women run for office and win, we all win. With 99 women running for public office across Missouri this election, women’s victories are inevitable on Tuesday night. Which means victories for our communities and families are inevitable too.