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The Journal Gazette

  • Moran-Townsend

Sunday, May 13, 2018 1:00 am

A message for women: Represent

Increasing the number of female officeholders essential to easing state's, nation's issues

Marilyn Moran-Townsend

Candidate boot camp

To support women who want to run in 2019 or 2020, the AVOW Women's Campaign Institute of the Paul Helmke School for Women in Public Life is offering a $495 non-partisan boot camp Aug. 3-5.

Patricia Russo, executive director of the Women's Campaign School at Yale University, will share how to avoid expensive rookie mistakes and overcome self-doubt. Sara Jane Rose, founder and executive director of Sally's List of Oklahoma, will help candidates develop their story. Former U.S. Rep. Jill Long Thompson will share what she's learned from a lifetime in government service. Brenda Gerber, former deputy finance director of the Mike Pence for Indiana campaign, will explain campaign finances and fund-raising. Jeff Brantley, vice president of political affairs for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, will provide an overview of campaign organization and PACs.

Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics, will cover campaign law. Former Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke and former Allen County Councilwoman Paula Hughes-Schuh will discuss how to bounce back from loss and lows. Marilyn Moran-Townsend will cover public speaking at rallies, in the media and on the voter's doorstep.

More information and an application for a scholarship is available at //

This message is for two groups of women: Those who want to run for office, and those who have previously run and lost. The message is simple and urgent:

Run, Jane, run.

Women are grossly underrepresented in government. We are 51 percent of the population but hold only 20 percent of the seats in our state legislature.

The U.S. has sunk from 52nd in the world in women's representation to 104th today. Let that sink in: A total of 103 countries have a higher representation of their women in government than we do.

Run, Jane, run.

While the numbers are discouraging, the impact is devastating. I believe the absence of civil debate, the name-calling in political advertising and the lack of respect that has caused us to shake our heads in disgust, cover our children's ears (and our own) and turn off our media is due in part to the lack of women at the table.

Run, Jane, run.

We all complain about some aspect of government service not measuring up to private-sector standards and citizen expectations.

As I see it, the lack of women in government leadership is a prime cause. A recent study of nearly 52,000 leaders finds women are considered more effective in 13 out of 16 leadership competencies.

This is evident to me as I observe and appreciate the women who do currently represent us.

When they are absent from government, we miss their contributions.

We also miss a woman's point of view.

Think about the issues you care about:

• Indiana's income gap for women (among the worst in the country)

• Infant mortality (Indiana has one of the highest rates in the nation)

• Women's health

• Violence against women

• Your children's education

• The opioid epidemic

• Family leave

• Social justice

• Government efficiency

• Crime

• Terrorism

• The economy

If you seriously believe, as I do, that more women at the table will positively lead government to better policies to address complex challenges, then join me in encouraging the women you know to run for office.

There is strong research that three factors reduce the number of female candidates:

1. Women need to be asked. Men don't wait to lead, but women often wait for an invitation. So I and the founders of AVOW – Rachel Tobin-Smith, Patricia Hays and Faith Van Gilder – are asking you to begin preparing now to run in 2019 or beyond.

2. Women who lose their first race don't try again. Women often accept a first loss as a permanent defeat. Men pick themselves up, run again and win. We should learn from them, because few candidates win their first race. Read the biographies of female office-holders you admire. Most lost their first race. It takes two or more tries.

3. Women carry a bigger share of the responsibilities at home. On Mother's Day, my message is to the family and social network: If you know a wonderful woman with a desire to run for office, please support her quest.

Women need to be asked; I'm asking. Women need to run more than once; I'm asking. Women need their support network to take on more responsibilities so they can run; I'm asking for your help. Women have important ideas, competent leadership qualities and a heart for service. Please, Jane, run!

Marilyn Moran-Townsend is co-founder of AVOW (Advancing Voices Of Women) and CEO of Fort Wayne-based CVC Communications.