A historic number of women are running for office this year. Here’s why that’s good news.
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If what they say is true, 2018 is shaping up to be the year of the woman.

Image via Victor Lorano/Unsplash.

From sister survivors organizing to prosecute their assailants to movements for equal pay in Hollywood and beyond, this year women across the country are demanding a voice on issues that matter. And in November, that surge of woman power is set to hit Congress during this year’s midterm elections.


As of October, 262 women are on the ballot for the November primaries for the House and Senate races, according to Center for Women and Politics.

And they're not all liberal candidates.

It’s a common misconception that women tend to be liberals and that gender equality issues are an exclusive hallmark of the political left.

In reality, women on both sides of the aisle are fighting for many of the same things. That’s why, come election time, an uptick in female representation would be great news for everyone — regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum. Here’s why:

Image by Shannon McGee/Flickr.

Congresswomen are extremely capable. Just take a look at what they’ve done already.

Congress’s bipartisan Women’s Caucus, made up of both liberal and conservative women in the House and the Senate, is led by Rep. Susan Brooks and her Democratic counterpart Rep. Lois Frankel. Together with almost 60 congresswomen, Brooks and Frankel have worked for progress on key issues relevant to women and families, such as equal pay, parental leave, sexual harassment, and support for female entrepreneurs.

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“But when you think about it, all issues impact women and families,” says Susan Brooks. “So we have, together in a bipartisan way, tried to have discussions and promote legislation that impacts those areas.”

Their efforts have been largely successful. The Women’s Caucus' list of accomplishments includes the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which protects women from employer retaliation when they become pregnant, and the Women’s Business Ownership Act, which protects female entrepreneurs from discriminatory lending practices by banks favoring men. And that’s just two examples. The list of the caucus’s accomplishment is long and reaches right up to the present.

A Women's Caucus Breakfast in Indianapolis, Maryland. Image via Maryland GovPics/Flickr.

Just last year, female leadership introduced mandatory reporting requirements to protect U.S. athletes from sexual harassment.

“Lois led the effort in the House — Susan Collins and Diane Feinstein led it in the Senate — to get a bill passed because Congress has oversight of the U.S. Olympic Committee,” explains  Brooks. Together, members of the Women’s Caucus passed the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act, which was signed into law in March of 2017.

There are men in Congress who are critical advocates for women. But that’s not enough.

Representatives Brooks and Frankel can both name a list of congressmen with a record of prioritizing women’s issues in their politics. But while men have been key participants in much of the progress made by the Women’s Caucus, that’s just not the same thing as women actually being represented by women.

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“The fact is that women — as mothers, as daughters, as grandmothers, as sisters — bring a different perspective to issues and problems,” says Representative Lois Frankel. “And that diversity is necessary to really create laws and policies that reflect the people we’re trying to represent.”

Brooks agrees. “We do very much appreciate, and continue to support, the men who, on both sides of the aisle, have stepped up and have led on legislation for health issues, childcare issues, sexual harassment issues,” she says. “But what women bring to the table is their perspectives: having been a girl going through school, having been a young woman entering into workplaces, what it’s like maybe to start a women-owned business, and how difficult sometimes it can be to be recognized.”

A Women's Caucus Breakfast in Indianapolis, Maryland. Image via Maryland GovPics/Flickr.

Of course, women are also well-suited to accomplish more than just progress on “women’s issues.”

“Women excel in all areas, and not just women’s issues,” says Rep. Frankel. “It’s so important to have women’s perspective and experience on every single issue.”

Rep. Brooks agrees. “I do believe that, with more women in Congress, we may be able to come together on more issues,” she says. “I would love to think that if we had more women involved in the discussions that we could even maybe resolve some of the thorniest problems facing the country — like immigration reform.

Image via Huw Williams/Wikimedia Commons.

While there are more women entering politics, the job is not done quite yet.

“We’re getting there far too slowly,” says Rep. Brooks. Currently women represent about 20% of the government, from Congress to the state legislative bodies.

Image via Rob Walsh/Unsplash.

“We have to encourage women to consider running,” she says. “Women often need to be asked to run, rather than raise their hand and run on their own.” It’s a documented phenomenon and a classic case of unmatched self-confidence across genders — even between candidates who might be equally qualified.

“They say a man gets out of bed, looks in the mirror, and says ‘I can be President,’ whereas a woman you have to ask [her] ten times,” she laughs.

That's why the uptick in women running this year is so important.

Image via Rochelle Brown/Unsplash.

As protections for women, families, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, and many other vulnerable communities were slashed this year, women — from all points on the political spectrum — are finally showing up, ready to run.

It would seem that, for now at least, the male-dominant status quo is no longer.

“Not this cycle,” says Rep. Frankel. “Not at all. They are being energized.”

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.