By the Numbers:
23%: Percent of Congressional Representatives who are women.
25%: Percent of State Legislators who are women.
Less than 5%: Percent of people in Congress who are mothers with school-aged children.
86%: Percent of American women who are mothers by the time we are 44 years old.
If we aren’t supporting mothers running for office, we aren’t supporting the vast majority of American women.
Why do we need more moms in office?
If we had more moms in office, we wouldn’t be one of two countries in the world without paid family leave. We wouldn’t have the worst maternal mortality rate in the developed world. We wouldn’t be 27th in healthcare and in education. We certainly wouldn’t have Representatives vote to take maternity coverage away from 13 million American women.
Our Congress, State Houses, and country would look dramatically different if we had more moms serving in elected office. A 2019 study by Lisa Bryant and Julia Marin Hellwege found that moms in Congress introduce five more bills over the course of their term than other women do, and their legislation is often focused on children’s healthcare, paid family leave, childcare, reproductive rights, education, and affordable housing for families.
But running for office as a mother, especially a mother of young children, is incredibly difficult. The first question a mother of young children is asked when she decides to run is, “who will watch your children while you’re campaigning?” Men don’t get asked this question. Mothers face unique barriers that other women do not face.
The Vote Mama Foundation trains mothers to run for office. The Vote Mama Foundation is working to normalize what it means to run with small children at all levels of government – from school board to Senate.
In 2019 we trained 71 mothers running in 16 different states. Of those candidates who won, 87% won city and town seats. Building a bench is critical. Working with these elected officials once they’re in office to provide resources, continue to build our networks, share best practices, policy plans, and draft legislation is also critical.
We are building the “mamas’ network” across the country to help us mentor and train other mothers to step up and run. We believe that one-on-one candidate support and mentorship is the most effective way to help moms who are thinking of running for office or who have already made the decision to step up and run. This is a time-consuming process, but training sessions followed by individual check-in meetings keeps candidates on track and accountable.
Building relationships, creating political mentors and role models, providing campaign and policy support enable women to find their political voice, and make it easier for them to run and win.