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It's no secret that women voters determine the outcome of most national elections and women have a higher voter turn-out rate than men. Study after study has proven that in the last few decades. But if women are influential voters, why aren't there more of them in elected office? Many organizations support and encourage women to run for a variety of offices -- The White House Project, Women's Campaign Fund, EMILY's List, The 2012 Project and Ready to Run just to name a few. But as we've also learned in the post-Citizen's United era of virtually unlimited corporate political giving, the element often missing when it comes to women and elected office is money.
Women are often hesitant to contribute to candidates or political campaigns, even though they're generous with their limited funds when it comes to charities or community-based projects. I've said for a long time that if women would band together and pool their funds to get behind the candidates we favor, that we could wield more influence in government and policymaking.
That's exactly what a handful of women are doing for 2012.
One of the first female-centric political action committees was MOTHER Pac in Oregon, which focuses on advocating for statewide "pro-family" issues and it's run by moms! Now, more women are going national with their political giving, putting their money where their lipstick is. Hey, if it's good enough for Stephen Colbert, it's good enough for us!
HERvotes PAC was founded last year by a coalition of over 50 women's organizations to help mobilize women voters on health and economic issues. They've been particularly vocal recently in the wake of proposed state legislation mandating internal ultrasounds prior to abortions, but part of the PAC's mission is to advocate for policies that help women achieve economic parity with men. On the other side of the political spectrum, a newly launched effort to help elect conservative women at the state and national levels is called She-PAC, founded by Teri Christoph of Smart Girl Politics and Suzanne Terrell, the founder of Project GOPink, a group that helps train politically conservative women to run for office. The newest female-run PAC on the block is Women's Strike Force, which recently formed in Virginia in response to the state's ransvaginal legislation. The bipartisan coalition of women recruits and supports candidates who oppose the legislation and/or want to defeat those who supported it.
So will women voters try to find some funds in their already tight budgets to back the candidates and causes important to them in 2012? For the ones who want to change the way things look in Washington, it might be worth giving up one or two lattes a week to get in on the political influence.
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You can read more from iVillage iVote Editor and Correspondent Joanne Bamberger at her blog, PunditMom. Joanne is also the author of the Amazon bestseller Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America.