By Mary Parry When I turned 16, my mom put a copy of her car key on a new key chain and adorned it with strands of curly giftwrap ribbon. I remember the strong sense of empowerment that came with holding my own car key for the very first time. I no longer needed to depend on someone else to take me where I wanted to go. As we head into the final days of early voting for NC’s May 6th primary election, I feel that same sense of empowerment for women in North Carolina. We hold the keys to our state’s future. Women make up 60% of our state’s workforce and 54% of voters. If every North Carolina woman participated in elections, we would drive this state in a direction that works for women.
We have more than earned the right to be decision-makers in North Carolina. Here’s why:
Women are holding up our state’s public school system. Seventy-five percent of North Carolina teachers are women. As teachers, women train tomorrow’s leaders and plump up the economy by attracting businesses to our state that seek graduates from reputable public schools.
Women are leaders in the healthcare community. In North Carolina, 92% of licensed nurses are women. We care for our state’s sick and vulnerable, providing top-notch care that keeps our communities healthy. Nurses also participate in cutting-edge research that brings national attention to our state and pours money into our state economy.
Women are significant players in the business world. In North Carolina, women own 267,800 firms and employ 268,300 people. Meanwhile, women-owned businesses contributed over $35 million to the state economy in 2014.
Women have earned a place at the table when it comes to discussing our state’s future, and that discussion begins at the voting booth. Civic engagement is a big responsibility. I know it can feel like a drag to add one more thing to our impossibly long to-do lists, but voting matters. Our votes can change election outcomes and those outcomes have a direct impact on our lives.
Unsurprisingly, fewer women vote in midterm election years like this one, when no presidential candidates will appear on the ballot. But when women turn out to vote, we really turn out to vote. In 2008, when Barack Obama ran against John McCain, 69% of NC women showed up to vote. On the other hand, in the 2010 midterm election, only 47% of NC women showed up to vote. That’s a drop of over 700,000 votes from women. Such numbers change election outcomes and impact what it’s like to live in our state. Midterms matter.
This week, as early voting continues and we get closer to the May 6th primary election, please help women in your community prioritize voting.
May 6th is primary election day in North Carolina. NC women are 54% of voters, so let’s use our numbers to create change. Sign and share this on-line Vote Together 2014 pledge card. After you cast your ballot, don’t forget to take a snapshot of yourself with your “I Voted” sticker. Send it to info@WomenAdvanceNC.org to be included in our album of Voting Day Selfies.