Thursday, November 20, 2014

Looking to the Future: Political Parity in Florida

By: Rijaab Mansoor, NWPC Communications Intern
November 4th was a sad day for women in Florida. With the reelection of anti-choice incumbent Governor Rick Scott, as well as the victories of several other anti-women candidates, significant ground has been lost in the fight for equal rights and access to reproductive health services. It was no surprise to see the overwhelming swing towards the right this election cycle. However, post-election day, it is clear that there needs to be progress made in the role of women in politics in Florida.

Florida doesn’t have the best reputation of being friendly to women voters (remember the Say Yes to the Dress ad debacle?), but that hasn’t deterred some from running for office. In this election cycle, there were many races that represented women’s issues, as well as several districts where both candidates were women! For the Florida State Senate, there were a total of 5 women running between 10 contested districts. There were also 9 women running in 8 districts for a seat in the US House of Representatives. Although these numbers show an uptick in female participation in politics, the results of these elections were not as hopeful. 5 of the 9 women running for a seat in the US House of Representatives were victorious. In the Florida State Senate race, only two of the five were able to secure a seat.

Fast-forward to today, and the picture of political parity in Florida is as grim as ever. Of our Congressional delegation, only 6 of the 29 Representatives are women, which is just 20%. There are only 12 female Senators in our State Senate of 40, or about 30%. The Florida House of Representatives has 21 female Representatives in the total House of 120, which is again just 20%. With numbers this bleak, it is hard to imagine a future where women will have equal power in government in Florida. And yet, we will not lose hope! Women in Florida must continue to fight for equality on all fronts, including equal pay and reproductive rights. The best way to ensure this is through continued participation in the political process. We cannot stop trying to break through the glass ceiling which continues to hold us down. With the support of groups such as the National Women’s PoliticalCaucus and its state branch, the National Women’s Political Caucus of Florida, women in Florida will surely reach the goal of political parity and equal rights for all!

All data taken from Florida Election Watch:

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