Gender equity in America is linked to women exercising our right to vote.
That was the takeaway last week, from the Women United Global Leadership Council's latest installment of our gender equity panel series. Moderated by the founder of Brave Philanthropist, Sophia Fifner, this panel included Kyra Miller from the National Women’s Law Center, Priestley Johnson of When We All Vote, and Jessica Jones Capparell from the League of Women Voters. This riveting discussion about gender equity, childcare, and the importance of women making their voices heard at the polls served as a rallying moment for Women United. Here are a few of my key takeaways from the event.
1. Women Need to Get Out and Vote
Statistics show that women have slightly higher voter turnout rates than men in both presidential and midterm elections. We have voting power! When women vote, we have the opportunity to ensure that our voices are heard and the issues that impact us are addressed by those in office. Childcare, reproductive rights, and voting rights are all on the ballot this midterm election. Without the backing of our political officials, gender equity will be nearly impossible to achieve. This is why one of the best ways we can help further gender equity is by getting out to vote. As Jessica so aptly reminded us, “when women vote, women win.”
2. Smart Voters Need a Plan
Voting requires preparations. Before you head out to vote, check your registration status. In the past couple of years “a lot of redistricting has happened, so some people may now be voting in a different county than they were before,” explained Jessica. Resources like United Way’s Voter Registration portal can help verify your voter registration and locate your polling place to ensure that you know you are able to vote. Once you figure out where you’re able to vote, take some time to research your ballot.
Looking at a list of all the candidates running in an election may seem intimidating, but it’s important to remember that “You don’t have to be an expert to vote,” says Jessica. “You just have to be an expert on yourself, what you believe and what you believe is best for your community.” Vote411.Org also has resources to help you research your local candidates and create a sample ballot to take with you to the polls or use when filling out your mail-in ballot.
Voting early is preferable. Priestley explained that “life happens, flat tires happen. You should aim to vote early because election day is the last day to vote.” Priestley also suggests making an event out of voting: “go to brunch beforehand, take a few friends, a family member, or even your kids. Make sure that your network has a voting plan and gets out to the polls.”
3. What Happens After the Election is Equally Important
Unfortunately, the work doesn’t stop after the election. It’s important that as constituents, we hold our elected officials accountable. One way to do this is by calling the office of your elected officials. “Every time you call a representative, someone has to make note of what you said during the call, what issue you raised and what stance you take on the issue,” explained Priestley. Take steps to make sure that your voice is heard outside of the ballot box. This ensures that the people representing you in office are aware of the issues that are important to you.
While we may not be voting for presidential candidates during this election cycle, “every election is important,” said Kyra. Big decisions are made by members of office that may hold seats for several years so it’s important not just to vote during presidential elections. Our voices deserve to be heard during every election cycle. So don’t forget to make a plan and get out and vote.
Women United has compiled a list of nonpartisan, nonprofit resources to help women get out and vote during the midterms. You can access them here. Don’t forget to get out and vote!