DOWNTOWN – The National Women’s Political Caucus held its 24th Biennial Convention at the Westin Hotel, 811 Spruce Street, over the weekend.
Opening on Thursday night, the convention featured a number of lectures on the nuts and bolts of running a political campaign, with plenty of networking opportunities and panels by female politicians, organizers and activists. Women from all across the United States convened here.
The NWPC, a grassroots organization that identifies and supports female candidates, was founded in 1971 in an attempt to even out the disparity between numbers of men and numbers of women in government, said the current president of the organization, Donna Lent.
Nearly 50 years later, she said that the country had seen an improvement in numbers of women running for office but that there was still more work for the caucus to do.
“Many more women are running for office than ran in 1971,” she said. “That’s for certain. Like all things, there have been times when more women jump into the fray, and where there’s been a little bit of backslide, which is happening right now in Missouri.”
She said that of special importance to the organization was identifying and supporting pro-choice candidates for office. And local offices are as important as higher offices.
“If you look at those that have run for president, except for the current person in the White House, most of them have served as governors of states before running for president,” she explained. “So it’s important that women begin to fill the bench, starting at a local level, whether it’s a local council, even a school board race – begin to serve at other positions locally before moving on to that federal position.”
She also spoke about the double standards that women in politics still face.
“Nobody ever questions a man when they’re chosen,” she said. But for women, she added, “some of those old standards apply. You will still see press ask odd questions.”
Despite these obstacles, one young state representative has found her political voice as a member of the Missouri House. Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, a Democrat who represents District 79, stopped by the NWPC to lend her voice to the “Engaging Young Women” panel, held on the second day of the convention.
Bosely, who was elected in 2018 and is just 26, said that seeing the hopelessness of the people around her made her want to jump in and get involved.
“The system doesn’t work for us,” she said of her generation. “Why do we need to be a part of the system? It’s nothing but broken. It’s stacked against us. And all these racial biases that are put in place – why would I care? That’s the key word. Why would I care to be involved? And this is the reason why we should care to be involved: Because you can do it. You can be a part of this change. In order to create change, you have to be a part of the process.”
Bosely and others on Saturday morning’s panel spoke about the horror they felt at the passing of the eight-week abortion ban in Missouri. Other panels over the weekend addressed diversity, the 2020 presidential election and more.
The National Women’s Political Caucus holds its convention every two years, but there are other ways to get involved. For more information, check out http://www.nwpc.org/convention2019/.