Report: NC gets a “D” for participation of women in politics and government

Image: NC Department of Administration

In case you missed it yesterday, be sure to check out a sneak preview of the latest report from the state Department of Administration’s Council for Women and Youth Involvement. It’s a sobering assessment of the rates at which North Carolina women are participating in politics and government. The bottom line assessment: Despite progress in some areas, our state still has a long, long way to go.

This is from a news release that accompanied the release of the preview:

“Key findings from the report include:

  • While North Carolina women have been voting at slightly higher rates in recent years, their representation in elected office has declined.
  • While women make up 51 percent of our state’s population, the majority of North Carolina political office holders at the state and federal levels remain male.
  • Women make up just 25 percent of the North Carolina General Assembly and only a third of statewide elected executive office seats.
  • At the current rate of change, it will be the year 2084 before women reach parity in the Legislature.

‘Women in North Carolina have seen a decrease in representation in statewide elected office,’ said IWPR study director, Elyse Shaw. ‘In 2015, North Carolina women held more than half (55 percent) of the statewide elected offices, but this fell to a third (33 percent) of statewide elected offices in 2020.’

The Political Participation Composite Index featured in this year’s report combines four component indicators of women’s political status: voter registration, voter turnout, representation in elected office, and women’s institutional resources. North Carolina ranks 35th in the United States overall on the Political Participation Composite Index – earning the state a ‘D’ grade on the index.

‘Research shows that women express concerns about issues like education, health care, the environment, Social Security and Medicare at higher rates than men,’ said Council Director Mary Williams-Stover. ‘The engagement of all women in the political process ensures that these issues are addressed in ways that reflect the needs of women from diverse backgrounds – and their families.’

Recommendations from the report include:

  • Preparing strategies to ensure the safety of voters during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes increasing electronic voter registration, expanding use of absentee ballots and mail in voting, and making election day a paid holiday so those who are able to make it to the polls have the time off from work needed to wait in longer, socially distanced lines. Additional activities could also include increasing the number of polling locations to help cut down the number of people voting at one location.
  • Ensuring that all women have equal access to a fair electoral process.This includes implementing a fair system of drawing the state’s political maps – to combat gerrymandering – and eliminating unjust voter ID laws that disenfranchise vulnerable women.
  • Recruiting more women to run for office and supporting women with mentoring, sponsorship, and education and training programs.Asking and encouraging women to run for political office is a vital part of increasing women’s representation in office at all levels.”

Click here to read the executive summary of the report and here for more information on upcoming events that will promote the report and some of the women leaders it features.

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