Participate in Government or Someone Else Will Do It For You

>>Woman at the legislatureI read the other day that when Sally Ride prepared to launch into space, she was contacted by (male) scientists wondering how many tampons to send up with her. Unconvinced by her answer, >>they packed 100. For a 7-day mission. Similarly, in 2013, members of the North Carolina General Assembly wanted to protect women. So they passed a bill >>about motorcycle safety, onto which they tacked some language about abortion clinics.

The problem in both these cases is that when women aren’t represented in the decision-making process, men do not hesitate to fill the decision-making vacuum. And often, they fill it poorly. Any 5-year-old can tell you that having decisions made on one’s behalf is not an ideal situation. And while, for the 5-year-old, ceding decision-making authority probably yields fine results, for women it’s historically been disastrous.

>>Women AdvaNCe is kicking off a year-long campaign to connect YOU with your elected officials. We want your reps at the General Assembly to know your face, your issues, and your needs. Too often representatives just listen to their richest constituents, or their noisiest. With your help, women will be at the table for the 2015 Legislative Session, and no man is going to make decisions for us without our voices being heard.

This isn’t about who you voted for, or whether there’s a big D or R next to your name on your voting card. The people who fill the seats in Raleigh are there, whether we like it or not, and it’s time to connect them with the more than 5 million women here in the Tarheel State.

What’s your issue? Is it >>teacher pay, >>chemicals in the groundwater, or >>access to affordable healthcare? The first step is to >>find out who represents you, them drop them a short line about why you are passionate about your cause. Their job is to listen to you, their constituents, so please don’t feel like you are bothering them or distracting from important work with your contact. Their most important work is pleasing you.

The next step is meeting your representative in person. If you can make it Raleigh, Women AdvaNCe will be hosting some meet and greets this spring with elected officials. If the state capitol is too far a haul, schedule some face time with your reps while they are back home. Just 10 minutes can make a difference between a Senator thinking their constituents don’t care about school funding and realizing it’s a cause that ignites the folks from his home town.

What’s next? Continue to engage. Sign up to >>start or join an AdvaNCe Team, a group of women who gather to talk about the issues in their community. Together, our voices will be heard. Together we cannot be ignored.

Make your 2015 resolution to reach out to your Representative and Senator at least one time. Today, try following them on Twitter. First go to >>Who Represents Me to find out your reps’ names. Then hit the >>Twitter homepage to search for their account. Comment below on other ways you plan to connect with your reps.

Jennifer Ferris is the Editorial Director of Women AdvaNCe and a writer from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. You can find her on twitter at @dillettantrum.

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  1. Evelyn Terry

    Too few women are represented where decisions are made, especially and disproportionately by white men. Unfortunately, many of these decision makers’ spouses are too intimidated to step up and or speak out against things they know are unfair and against our their best interests, This is perhaps one of the largest wedge I see as member of the legislative body myself when it comes to women’s issues.

  2. Tara Romano

    Please join NC Women United ( for our Women’s Advocacy Day at the NCGA in Raleigh Tuesday, February 24. We will have advocacy training, issue education and opportunities for networking with organizations and advocates from across the state, in addition to an opportunity to meet with your representatives. We will have registration and more details on our website soon, including information on virtual advocacy if you can’t make it to Raleigh.

    (NC Women United is a coalition of statewide organizations, and includes Women AdvaNCe as part of our membership).

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