What motivates women to run for office? Sometimes, it’s heartbreak.
Kimberly Mata-Rubio, a grieved mother who lost her 10-year-old daughter in last year’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX, recently announced her candidacy for mayor. Her decision to run for office is a stark example of the reality of what women feel compelled to do when it’s clear that no one else will be their voice.
The launch of Mata-Rubio’s campaign is a timely reminder that it is critically important that women’s lived experiences be heard, uplifted, and reflected in policy making. Women remain grossly underrepresented in the rooms where decisions are being made. Our lack of parity continues to plague women’s leadership across all sectors, but especially in politics, and certainly in Texas: women hold just 30% of seats in the Texas state legislature and comprise only 26% of the 1,616 mayors and officials who perform mayoral functions in the US.
While the lack of parity in government is not a new problem, what is alarming is that the current strategies in place to address this crisis are not working. According to the United Nations, the world is not on track to achieve gender equality by 2030. We must move outside of board rooms and court rooms and into the places and spaces where women are already leading.
While Mata-Rubio’s announcement made major headlines, from the Uvalde Leader-News to TIME, She Should Run research shows there are still 24 million American women who are primed for elected leadership but are not currently considering the possibility of running for office.
The research confirms that women do not come to politics to fix a lack of representation in government. Like many of us, women are motivated to act by the issues impacting their daily lives, from gun violence to the economy and everything in between.
At She Should Run, we celebrate women like Mata-Rubio because their leadership speaks to what we already knew—there is an entire country full of women with diversity of thought and perspective ready to take action on the causes they care about. We also believe examples like hers offers hope and encouragement to millions of American women who don’t yet see a path to public office or the impact they can have on their community.
If we want to see a different future where our democracy reflects the people it serves, we need to invest in the women who are in the daily struggle. They—and our country—deserve energy for and commitment to the millions of women like Mata-Rubio who don’t yet realize they are exactly what we need.
It’s time to rethink traditional political recruitment and prioritize finding and uplifting the women already leading on the issues that are top of mind for the majority of Americans. Encourage a woman to consider running for office, support her when she goes for it, or, better yet, consider it yourself.
While we are heartbroken for Kimberly Mata-Rubio’s loss, we applaud her willingness to bring her leadership and determination to policy making tables. Women belong in the rooms where decisions are made, and we have to work together to get them in office.
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