So you want to run for office? First, hurrah! Second, get organized!
Following on episode one with Suzanne, I thought it would be useful to compile some go-to resources for would be candidates. Now days there’s a wealth of resources on and offline offering information about the process of campaigning – dig in!
- Slate compiled a fantastic list of organizations offering candidate training, campaign books, and campaign service providers (with U.S. emphasis, but some of the basics hold up no matter the country).
- They also did a great profile of four first time candidates which is fun to read.
- In my day job, I help women candidates and political parties do more to involve women in elections in places outside the U.S. You can check out my toolkits with campaign basics, advice about message, branding, and political party structures.
- And I am always available to talk to first-time candidates about running, so contact me! Seriously, I will make time to help! As VP of the European Association of Political Consultants and board member of the International Association of Consultants, I have a wide network of consultants at my finger tips who can help. Just let me know what you’re looking for and I can refer you to the right firm.
While the tools above are generally helpful, the reality is that women’s experience as candidates differs from men. Women face a litmus test that men do not have to pass, especially when it comes to the issues of likability and qualifications. Research has shown that voters will support a male candidate they do not like but who they think is qualified, they won’t do the same for a woman. Women have to first prove they are qualified. For men, their qualification is assumed. Geez, that’s just swell. As if it’s not hard enough to run for office, now women have to overcome a twisted double bind of likability. The good news is that it’s possible to counter this, but first we have to accept that a bias exists and be more crafty in how we minimize its impact. Here’s how.
Women also have to work harder at negotiating family support, as well as approach fundraising in more creative ways given that they typically have less access to resources than men. The Barbara Lee Foundation has done incredibly insightful research on all of these topics with practical advice and resources for how to launch a campaign and hit the ground running, aided by public opinion research conducted by Celinda Lake, one of the nation’s foremost experts on electing women candidates and on framing issues to women voters. Listen to one of her recent interviews dissecting the 2018 U.S. midterm election and what advantages female candidates can organize around.
Women in Politics – Hubs
If only every country had just a fraction of the resources American and European candidates have at their disposal to help women level the playing field in politics. (And for my home country, let’s hope the time and effort spent analyzing women’s participation results in raising the dismal number of women in politics to more than 19% of women in Congress, shamefully below the global average).
- Working for a more feminist Europe is the European Women’s Lobby, an umbrella organization that brings together the women’s movement in Europe to influence the public and European Institutions in support of women’s human rights and equality between women and men.
- The Women Political Leaders Global Forum (WPL) is a worldwide network of female politicians. The mission of WPL is to increase both the number and the influence of women in political leadership positions. WPL’s largest community is Women in Parliaments (WIP), which includes the 9,000 female national legislators around the world.
- The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutger University is an excellent resource for examining questions about American women as candidates, officeholders and voters through scholarly research. Their twitter feed is also bubbling with interesting news and information on all things women and politics.
- RepresentWomen advocates for systemic approaches to advance women’s representation and leadership by working with allies to win gender parity for all women.
- Hubs for women candidates in the U.S. (which is useful as an example for those outside of the U.S.)
International NGOs working to support women candidates
I’ve been lucky to work with all three of these organizations who do outstanding work – before, after and between elections — to support women leaders and gender inclusion.
- National Democratic Institute
- International Foundation for Electoral Systems
- International Republican Institute
What on-the-ground hubs exist outside of the West? Send me your links!
The photo above is from a training I conducted with Georgian candidates (the country, note the state), which is one of my favorite places to work in the world. I have worked with literally hundreds of candidates across the globe (and have lots of super compelling photos of women standing in front of flipcharts to proove it). But one of the gaps internationally is the lack of an Emily’s list-like campaign hub to support women candidates. This is changing, bit by bit, with more organizations having been formed in recent years to provide training for women, working with political parties, and importantly, pushing back on sexism in politics. There is an incredible amount of energy and knowledge in many countries to help women run in addition to the ones listed above – let’s shine a spotlight on some of those efforts! Send me the name of your favorite go-to group for women candidates!