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Grassroots Movement to Put First Female Governor in Office

Several groups in Illinois are encouraging more women to run for office. (
Several groups in Illinois are encouraging more women to run for office. (
October 27, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – There's an effort underway to get more women to run for political office in Illinois. She Votes Illinois is a grassroots effort formed this year after no female candidates stepped forward to run for governor.

Liz Kersjes is co-founder and chair of the group and says that's a problem, especially amidst reports of rampant sexual harassment in statehouses across the country - including Springfield. She says issues that are important to women need to be placed at the center of the debate about who should lead the Democratic ticket for governor.

As to why more women don't run for political office, Kersjes says despite advances in equal treatment, women are still perceived by many as the weaker sex.

"Women can only, for example, apply for jobs if they feel they're 110 percent qualified, whereas men, the data shows, will apply for jobs if they're only 70 percent qualified," she notes.

Kersjes says candidates who want women to vote for them need to address topics such as sexual harassment, violence, equal pay, reproductive rights, education, healthcare, and LGBTQ issues.

Kersjes says her group and others are reaching out to women of all ages, engaging and training a new generation of women ready to move progressive policies forward that sustain and create better opportunities for women.

"Supporting women in Illinois to help gain them experience," she adds. "We're looking at building one-on-one mentorship programs, creating targeted job boards that help women find out about opportunities
to work on campaigns, for example, to get experience that way."

Currently, six women are serving as governors of U.S. states, along with mayor of the District of Columbia. Illinois has never had a female governor. The first female governor served in Oregon in 1909 - but only for a weekend. Arizona is the first state where a woman succeeded another woman as governor, and the first state to have had four women governors.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IL