Having a female point of view is sometimes just what is needed to make important changes. Nevada discovered that this year when their state legislature rolled out new protections for women thanks to their higher-than-average female representation. The Nevada state legislature still has a male majority, but it is 40% female. That ratio makes it second in the nation for female representation. Vermont is the only state with a greater percentage of women in their state legislature.
Despite having a male Republican governor, the state legislative session resulted in several important victories for women’s rights. Those victories included a new family planning program, insurance for contraception and mammograms, and no taxing on tampons. That is an impressive outcome for the legislature.
The female leaders in Nevada are working hard to prepare their state and protect their people for any Affordable Care Act rollbacks by the Trump administration. Sen. Julia Ratti (D) introduced a new bill that would continue to protect women’s health on the state level regardless of any potential federal changes. Sen. Pat Spearman (D) introduced two bills to protect women, both of which were ratified. One will keep domestic abusers from owning firearms, while the other will remove sales taxes on crucial feminine hygiene products.
The increase in female leaders in Nevada is largely thanks to an organization known as EMILY’s List. Their goal is to get Democratic women elected throughout the nation. They put in the groundwork to identify and recruit women who they believe will represent their communities well. They then work to get their candidates trained and ready for their new roles. The organization has been working in Nevada since 2014 and have been very successful. Of the 18 Democratic women in the Nevada state legislature, EMILY’s List had a hand in getting 15 elected.
While 40% of the state legislature being female is a great start, there is still a ways to go before the legislature is truly representative of the people. Women make up a majority of the population, yet have consistently been a minority in all levels of politics. Increasing the diversity of the people who wield political power is important for more than just women. Adding in varying perspectives means that everyone gets to have their voice heard.