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A Little Nudge And A Lot Of Support

September 20, 2011
by Jane Whitmore , Emmetsburg News

Have you ever experienced the "cringe" factor? That's when a person physically cringes when faced with the unknown - or when a person is asked to do something they're not sure about.

Jean Lloyd-Jones, long time Iowa legislator, told a group in Emmetsburg last week that she sees the "cringe" factor when she tells a women "you ought to run for office."

Jean was speaker at an informal gathering called a "Nudge Party." The point of the gathering was to "nudge" or encourage women to run for elected office. And if that isn't an option, to locate women who will work on behalf of other women who are running for elected office.

It's all part of a movement called 50/50 in 2020. Jean Lloyd-Jones and Maggie Tinsman are co-founders of this bipartisan movement to achieve political equity for Iowa.

In Iowa, 53-percent of the electorate is women; there are 1,111,000 registered women voters in the state. Now you'd think there would be some women out there who would like to run for office. Quoting Maggie Tinsman, Jean Lloyd-Jones said men might just say one day, "I think I'll run for the State Senate." Women, on the other hand, must be asked several times to even consider the possibility.

In America's history, there have been several surges of women's movements. In Iowa, voters have yet to elect a woman governor, a woman to the U.S. Senate and a woman to the U.S. House of Representatives. However, Iowa is the only state in the nation that requires gender balance on all state boards and commissions. That provision was inserted by Jean Lloyd-Jones when she was chair of the House State Government committee.

The White House Project also targets women in leadership positions. From their website I learned: The White House Project, a national, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization, 501(c)(3), aims to advance women's leadership in all communities and sectors, up to the U.S. presidency. By filling the leadership pipeline with a richly diverse, critical mass of women, we make American institutions, businesses and government truly representative. Through multi-platform programs, The White House Project creates a culture where America's most valuable untapped resource-women-can succeed in all realms.

This little tidbit of information is also interesting: Research by the White House Project shows that numbers matter. It's when you have numbers of women, that voters can focus on the issues, rather than what makes a woman different when she's the only one-her gender.

Maggie C. Wilson is founder and President Emeritus of The White House Project. In 1983, she was the first woman elected to the Des Moines City Council.

The mission of 50/50 in 2020 is to achieve political equity for Iowa women by recruiting, training and mentoring women in sufficient numbers that by the 100th anniversary of Women Suffrage (the year 2020) Iowans will have elected females to fill 50-percent of the Iowa Legislature, the Iowa delegation to the U.S. Congress, and the office of Governor.

So the bottom line is: women must be recruited to run for office and they must have mentors to help then through the process. Jean and Maggie intend to train and mentor women from both parties, at a Blueprint for Winning Academy next January. Sessions will be held as they work with candidates to plan a campaign. They will host 20 women running for the state legislature and their campaign managers to create a Campaign Blueprint. What a great way to start a campaign.

Look around. There are potential candidates out there. They just need a little "nudge" and a lot of support from other women.



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