Four out of ten businesses are owned by women, the number of female multi-millionaires increased to 31 percent in 2017, and in 2019 there will be 42 new women serving in Congress. Despite this progress, women are still characterized as knowing nothing or less than their male counterparts.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by Cass Bird
Since her unexpected sweep in the primary, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been under attack for being an outspoken, unconventional, and progressive new member of Congress. Most recently she was targeted by members of the Trump administration and accused of not knowing much about government. Her comments onPentagon spending have also come under fire for being inaccurate. Ocasio-Cortez’s brutal treatment is well-publicized, but it is not unusual. As a young elected official, she will probably continue to face scrutiny reserved for individuals like her, members who seek to disrupt (in a good way) the status quo. There will be over 2,000 new women serving in legislatures across the United States at the beginning of 2019.
For the newly-elected members, they will be taking on the challenge of learning about the internal process of government, working within their party and across the aisle, and understanding the state budget. And like Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, it is likely that some of these women will face challenges from their colleagues rooted in bias related to their race, gender, or national origin.
Women Legislators’ Lobby (WiLL) Communications Training in DC
For individuals, especially women, that are new to government, one way to prepare against the onslaughts is for members to engage with groups that are dedicated to their success. Women Legislators’ Lobby (WiLL) a program of Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) is a national nonpartisan network of women who work together to influence federal policy and budget priorities. We accomplish that influence through educating our members and partnering with members of Congress. This year WiLL hosted three communications trainings for over 80 legislators from 24 states serving incumbent and newly-elected women legislators. These trainings included skills training focused on communicating effectively with your audience, cultivating relationships with journalists, lobbying, hosting press conferences, building your brand, and maximizing the potential of social media.
These trainings also focused on understanding the federal budget and its impact on the states. Knowing where and how federal spending happens is crucial for state legislators. Several states are looking for ways to fund their needs, including improving infrastructure, funding public pensions, health care reform, and meeting education standards. Properly appropriated funds will go a long way in helping states to meet these needs. For women legislators, being armed with that knowledge and the ability to successfully persuade their members of Congress to act on behalf of their constituents will help them accomplish the goals they set out in their campaigns.
Twitter for Elected Officials Session, WiLL Communications Training in DC
We have only completed the first leg of the race in getting women represented in government. The second half will be in providing them the tools they need to successfully govern. WiLL has maintained that commitment and will continue to with the incoming class of women. Our programming will center on making women legislators strong advocates who lead from the front unapologetically. Amplifying their voices to speak zealously for their constituents, these women have the chance to make great changes happen in their states. WiLL will forge ahead to be a part of those great changes, training this group of women to be women speaking on behalf of humanity.