“Is it possible that Congress would get more done if there were more women in Congress?… I think it’s fair to say: That is almost guaranteed.” -President Obama
Obama isn’t the only one to think so. Women currently in office and groups that advocate for female candidates have argued that more women in Congress could result in a focus on the protection of reproductive rights and contraception access, as well as more aggressive attempts to bring about pay equality, providing paid parental leave and create legislation that serves families better. Though the only way to find out for sure is to get more women into office.
According to the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics, women hold 16.8 percent of U.S. congressional seats, 17 out of the 100 in the Senate and 73 of the 435 in the House. There are only 26 states who have elected female representatives in the House and four states (Delaware, Iowa, Mississippi and Vermont) have yet to elect a woman to Congress.
The United States is rather behind the world in in having female elected officials, currently there are 89 nations that surpass the U.S. in terms of women’s representation in government. These nations ahead of us are not limited to the progressive nations in Europe but includes nations not known for human rights such as Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa and Cuba.
Some of the most powerful women in the world are elected officials making a name for themselves while serving their people with tremendous strength and poise. For instance, the current German Chancellor is Angela Merkel who besides being responsible for her country (which has the 5th biggest economy in the world) she also controls the $2.9 trillion GDP of Germany and influences the $14.8 trillion economy of the European Union. Then there’s the Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, who presides over the world 8th largest economy and will be responsible for preparing her country in their hosting of the Olympics and World Cup.
In November, however, American voters have the best chance yet to change all this. As NPR reported, more women than ever are running for Congress this year. There are women running for 18 seats in the Senate and for 141 seats in the House. Now I’m not saying to elect an individual based solely on their gender so as to equalize things however, we should examine female candidates with the same attention that we do our male candidate and consider what a female elected official can bring to the table.
To learn more about each of the women running for office this year, the Huffington post has an interactive infographic which is broken down by district.