TRANSITION FORUM – White House Project President Marie Wilson Calls for Presidential Commission on Women and Democracy
November 7, 2008 Posted by Marie Wilson, President and Founder, The White House Project In headlines across the world, President-elect Obama's win has been rightly celebrated for the racial barriers his candidacy, and eventual victory, have broken down. Yet the historic nature of President-elect Obama's rise is also reflected in his campaign's innovative and trailblazing style—one that helped to win him the election. From their remarkable GOTV efforts which redrew the electoral map, to the tremendous impact of "hope and change" as mantras for a new America, the Obama campaign utilized great ingenuity to fire up a nation of voters. My vision for the Obama administration hinges on using this very spirit of creativity and skill to shepherd in a new era for our nation's women. The issues that women care about – from poverty and violence to education and healthcare – have been mainstay challenges of American politics. The reason for this is somewhat simple: though women have been disproportionately affected by these issues, they have not traditionally had seats at the tables of power to address and rectify the problems that they face. Even in this historic year for women's leadership, a mere four women were elected to the 111th Congress. Solving the issues that women face requires a solution we have yet to try: adding far more women to the leadership mix. Instead of tackling these issues in a piecemeal fashion, the Obama administration would be well advised to instead get to the root of the problem by establishing the nation's first Presidential Commission on Women and Democracy. The mission of the Commission would be this: to find ways to ensure that more women do indeed have seats at the tables of power, thereby enacting permanent and systemic change to the status of women in this country, and helping to foster a truly representative democracy. There are a myriad of ways in which the Commission could approach the task at hand: strategies could include priority voting and other democracy reforms which result in wins by outsider candidates; guaranteed campaign loan funds; civil society curriculum in schools; increased training for women candidates; increased support from central party leadership for women candidates; and popular culture initiatives. The Obama administration has spent the past twenty months demonstrating innovative and inspirational leadership. With the electorate invigorated by this historic election cycle – and the bevy of political firsts which it provided – now is the time for our nation to usher its women into the 21st century, and reclaim our mantle as a leader on behalf of women on the global stage.