By Susana Sanchez, Community Mobilization Intern
The Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), has recently launched a new non-partisan project, the 2012 Project that received national attention when Debbie Walsh, CAWP’s director appeared on CNN to speak about the program. According to Walsh, the program is trying to identify, educate and inspire women who are 45 or older, who are already leaders in their field and whose families’ responsibilities have lessened to run for office in 2012. Women of color and women from underrepresented fields such as the environment, health, technology, and finance are given special priority.
As Latinas we already know we are a minority, but when it comes to elective office women, from any race, are a minority but Latinas are overwhelmingly underrepresented:
- Out of 90 women serving in the 111th Congress, only 6 or 6.7% are Latinas.
- Out of the 72 women serving in statewide elective executive offices just 3 or 4.2% are Latinas.
- Out of the 1,806 women state legislators serving nationwide only 75 or 4.2% are Latinas.
The project is launched in crucial timing because 2012 is a year during which “every congressional and state legislative district in the country will be redrawn, and new and open seats will be created.” So, this is an excellent opportunity for our community to encourage talented Latina leaders to run for office.
In her CNN interview, Walsh also pointed out “women are much more likely than men to need to be asked to run,” so let’s start encouraging Latinas to run for office to represent us as a diverse community of women from different social, religious and economic backgrounds.
We urgently need more Latinas at decision making tables who can participate when bills are being proposed, drafted and voted, bills and laws that indirectly or directly affect our lives and our families’. We need to elect more Latinas that stand by our side with a progressive agenda, who keenly understand the most pressing issues that our community faces. We need Latinas who strongly believe that laws like Arizona’s SB 1070 racially profile us. We need elected Latinas who know that the ugly term “anchor baby” is based on a myth, who know that immigration reform is of extreme urgency to keep Latino families together and to open doors for talented Latino students to go to college. We need Latinas in state legislatures and in Congress that are aware that a disproportionate number of Latinas lack health insurance or who struggle to get good quality and culturally competent health care.
Our community cannot keep waiting, we need Latinas like us on every state and federal office, representing us and working hard to make sure laws do not marginalize our community but support us and our families.
By Susana Sanchez, Community Mobilization Intern is supported by the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program