Women’s Funds Welcome New Reflective Democracy

Women, and particularly women of color, made historic gains in the 2018 elections.

How do you create better leadership? By electing quality leaders that reflect the values of the people. With the 2018 elections, Americans have elected more leaders than ever who share a vision to make the country more inclusive and safe,  particularly for women, minorities, and marginalized populations.

As feminist philanthropy leaders praise the outcome of the 2018 elections, they are also using this moment to continue advocating for the causes of women’s rights and reproductive freedom.  “Women’s Funding Network was created 30 years ago to increase women’s leadership in all arenas – media, corporate, policy, philanthropic. Progress is made every day,” tweeted Cynthia Nimmo, CEO of the Women’s Funding Network.  “Today, so proud to see a more inclusive democracy in America.”

“Thank you to those who took risks and those who found courage to push back against hate, racism, sexism and white supremacy,” tweeted Teresa Younger, CEO of the Ms. Foundation for women. “We are in this together and will continue to move forward. I am energized by what I continue to see and hear about our commitment to build power for good.”

Here in Rhode Island, where women are poorly represented in government and in danger of losing reproductive freedom, progressive women candidates made historic gains in political representation. Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island (PPV!RI) reported that, along with growing the number of their endorsed candidates who got elected to 44, Rhode Island also elected a record 42 women to the state legislature, including 16 in the Senate and 26 in the House.

The Democrats’ regaining the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives was largely driven by women voters, who are being heralded as “pivotal” to the election’s results. And overall in Congress, at least 102 women will be sworn in early next year, up from 84 women currently serving in Congress.

Much of this change has to do with an intentional investment by progressive women donors in helping women learn about, prepare, and act on their goals of running for public office. Organizations like Vote, Run, Lead, EMERGE America, She Should Run, Running Start, and Higher Heights have been working for years to increase the number of women taking on the immense challenges of funding and winning political campaigns.

So it’s time to say thank you to the women donors who are thinking strategically, and who recognize the deep connection between political representation and progress for gender equality. Hopefully you feel validated for your efforts by this election’s outcomes, and will continue to expand your commitments to growing gender equality in government.


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Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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