Amy Dacey, executive director of EMILY’s List, spoke to attendees at Washington, D.C.’s Busboys & Poets on March 30 about the “war on women” being waged in Congress right now and the importance and urgency of encouraging qualified women across the country to run for political office. The event was part of the Progressivism on Tap spring series run by the Center for American Progress’s Progressive Studies Program.
Dacey pointed out how conservative members of Congress ran on an agenda of creating jobs in the last election cycle but have instead pulled a “bait and switch” and seem singularly focused on social issues—the most incredulous being their war on health and reproductive access for women. Conservatives seem intent on creating a very intrusive, overreaching government, from trying to redefine rape to defunding contraception services at Planned Parenthood.
It’s not just women that will be affected if these policy goals became a reality, either. Dacey underscored how whole families will be hurt. Couples may not be able to access affordable reproductive health services.
Dacey said it is critical that more women run for office to change the policy focus of Congress to one that supports women. She mentioned that one of the best ways to get more women to run is to simply “ask them.” Often men will ask other men to run at an early age, but there need to be support networks for women, too, if Congress is to become more equitable.
Men can represent women’s interests in Congress. But it certainly helps to have women themselves at the decision table in Washington.