The goal of the database is to “make it easier to find the information we need to support those we have got to support.” The site’s homepage prominently features Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to be elected to the US in 1968 and first African-American to seek the nomination for presidency. She once said: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” The famous quote remains a powerful rallying cry for women activists across the country.
More than half the candidates for the Cuban National Assembly are women, according to the nation's electoral authorities – meaning that if all 320 female candidates are ratified, Cuba would become the second country in the world to boast a female majority in parliament. Rwanda currently ranks first in the world for its parliamentary female majority, with women making up 61.3 percent of all members.
There is an unprecedented surge of first-time female candidates, overwhelmingly Democratic, running for offices big and small, from the U.S. Senate and state legislatures to local school boards. At least 79 women are exploring runs for governor in 2018, potentially doubling a record for female candidates set in 1994, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. The number of Democratic women likely challenging incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives is up nearly 350% from 41 women in 2016.
“There have been a lot of stories about the blue wave,” said Jenifer Sarver, who’s vying to become Texas's first newly elected female Congresswoman in over two decades. “There is a feeling among conservative women that women on the left are getting a lot of attention, and we often feel left out. I think there’s something happening on the other side of the aisle as well that I think is exciting for different reasons.”
Labor MP Anne Aly, who was a professor at Edith Cowan University before her election to Parliament in 2016, thought different standards are applied to women in leadership positions. She noted that while ambition is seen as a positive attribute for men, for women it is a negative. Aly said characteristics that might be traditionally seen as more "female" – like empathy, negotiation and communication skills and bringing people together – tend to be overlooked when thinking about leadership.
“Historically, there’s been this notion that to run for political office—and this is most evident by looking at the most visible offices in the country: the federal offices and president—one has to have a long career in public service and a lot of policy experience,” Moses explains. “Given that the country in 2016 elected someone who had no policy experience and no career in public service and very little experience in any realm other than television and business, it just became clear that suddenly that’s not a requirement. And I don’t mean that in a partisan way.”
Together with Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff and Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez, Bachelet embodied the major strides made by women across a region that has passed laws deterring rampant violence against women and set quotas for political participation that have given Latin American women a bigger share of parliamentary seats than in Europe. But now some worry that progress on women’s rights could stall. “We’re seeing a shift to conservative politics that is questioning the advances of the last 15 to 20 years,” said Eugenia Piza-Lopez, who works on gender in Latin America for the United Nations Development Program.
In this small nation, there is a near-unquestioned conviction based on decades of evidence that electing women to positions of power benefits women and families. And at a time when American women, galvanized by the election of Donald Trump, are showing unprecedented interest in entering the political arena themselves, Iceland can provide both a roadmap and a promise for what’s possible. Iceland’s lesson for America is clear: When women win elections, everyone wins.