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As the clock ticks towards the 2020 US Election six women amongst others, have declared their candidacies for the Democratic nomination in 2020. It’s the most women who’ve ever run for a major-party nomination in history.

Until this cycle, there had been, at most, two women who had ever competed in a major party primary, according to the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics. Now, that number has already been far surpassed, as Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar, along with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Oprah’s spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson, have all announced presidential runs.

Political science tells us that the surge of women this cycle is in large part due to the inroads Hillary Clinton made in 2016, along with the outrage women across the country have experienced since Donald Trump, an alleged sexual harasser, has taken office. The historic 2018 midterms, which saw the election of more than 100 women Congress members, also demonstrated that women could, overwhelmingly, win.

“Did Hillary inspire many women to run? Absolutely,” says political strategist Maria Cardona, though she adds that the visceral response to Trump’s presidency is likely an even more powerful motivating factor. “I think the anger and fear of what we’re becoming after Trump really lit a fire in women’s bellies.”

But there could be another explanation — one that many women running for office themselves have cited: If Donald Trump can be president, why can’t I run for office? Whether it’s a Clinton effect or a Trump effect is a matter of debate, but it has opened the floodgates for women, especially Democratic women, around the country.

What it takes to get women to run for office

A record number of women ran — and won — in the 2018 midterms, and the same dynamics that led to this boost could be contributing to the increase in women presidential candidates as well.

Clinton, the first woman to secure a major-party nomination for the presidency, carved out a path that other women could follow. Research has found that women in leadership positions can serve as key role models for younger women in their field, and help improve their performance. Additionally, one person’s efforts to break a barrier can make a position seem more accessible to others in the future.

“I think that Hillary did help, but also I think the victories in 2018 helped. It proved that women can mobilize women voters,” says Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, who runs Lake Research Partners.

Thus far, however, Democratic women candidates are still polling far behind other men expected in the field including former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, though much of their leads could be driven by name recognition.

According to a Monday poll from Monmouth University, Biden is leading the Democratic field with 28 percent of voter support, and Sanders is coming in at 25 percent. Harris currently has 10 percent of voter support.

As much as Clinton can claim credit here, outrage directed at Trump has also been a major mobilization factor for women. Trump is unpopular with women — historically so. Sixty-five percent of women disapprove of his handling of the presidency, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll, compared to 45 percent of men.

Trump also completely shifted the expectation on a candidate’s qualifications, Lake notes.

“Trump definitely mobilized women. Women used to ask, ‘Am I qualified enough?’ Donald Trump is such an unusual candidate and also, from a Democratic perspective, such a flawed candidate, it was liberating,” she says.

It’s also worth noting that women, historically, have been more likely to lean to the left than the right, with a higher proportion of women voting Democratic and running for political seats as Democrats. Fifty-six percent of women lean Democratic, compared to 44 percent of men, according to a Pew Research Center study.

The surge in Democratic women candidates can also be attributed, in part, to longtime investments the party has made in building a bench.

“The filling of the pipeline was a 35-year project or longer,” says Lake, who adds that Barbara Mikulski, one of the first women to join the Senate, used to joke that she was a 30-year overnight success. Emily’s List, one of the organizations that have led recruitment for women and training for women candidates, most recently heard from more than 42,000 women interested in running during the 2018 midterms.

As the New York Times’s Susan Chira noted in a story following the 2018 elections, the degree of funding Emily’s List has brought to the table for Democratic women far outpaces that of some of its Republican counterparts — a dynamic that illustrates just how much Democrats have committed to this effort compared to the GOP:

Emily’s List, which endorses and finances Democratic women who support abortion rights, said it raised $110 million this election cycle and has raised more than $600 million since it was founded in 1985. Value in Electing Women, one of the analogues for Republican women, has raised $4.5 million since it was founded in 1997, according to its website.

More women running is normalizing the presence of female presidential candidates

There are many positive effects of more women running for the presidential nomination, including the fact that gender is no longer solely being used as the differentiating factor among candidates.

“I think that any time we have more women running, and greater diversity among those women, it just challenges those monolithic conceptions of what it means to be a woman candidate,” Kelly Dittmar, an assistant political science professor and CAWP scholar, told CBS News.

Unlike 2016, when Clinton was notably the only woman in the race, this cycle’s Democratic primary and the diverse slate of women candidates competing in it makes it much tougher for voters to simply say they can’t find a woman whose policies appeal to them.

The women candidates this cycle also span the Democratic ideological spectrum, so there are fewer generalizations that can be made about their policy positions and strategies. Warren specializes in regulation of the financial sector, and Harris brings an expansive background as a California prosecutor, for example.

“In order to distinguish between them, voters would have to evaluate them on their policies beyond their gender,” says Mirya Holman, a political science professor at Tulane who studies the intersection of gender and elections.

All these female candidates could normalize even more women running in the future.

Source: Vox

Canada’s minister of gender equality has announced a new initiative aimed at creating a sustainable model to fund women’s rights organizations in developing countries and at home.

Maryam Monsef said the Equality Fund brings together 11 organizations from the philanthropic, non-profit and financial sectors, including the Canada-based Match International Women’s Fund, the African Women’s Development Fund and Oxfam Canada.

“This is the first time that we are seeing a collaboration of this kind to advance gender equality in Canada and around the world,” Monsef said after her announcement Sunday.

The federal government has invested $300 million through the fund specifically for women in the developing world, said Monsef, who is in Vancouver this week to attend the Women Deliver conference, which is expected to draw thousands of advocates for gender equality. The purpose of the fund is “to ensure that funding flows to those organizations on the ground who are doing great work on shoestring budgets,” she said.

The money would be doled out through various community groups and is meant to support a range of projects such as those tackling gender-based violence, bolstering economic security and advancing women in leadership positions.

“The whole point of the Equality Fund is to create a self-sustaining funding mechanism,” Monsef said of the perpetual model. “These dollars are going to grow.”

In addition to the federal contribution, the fund has already raised $100 million, with an aim to reach $1 billion over the next 15 years, Global Affairs Canada said in a release.

The government also pledged to match donations for domestic programs of up to $10 million each for three groups – Community Foundations of Canada, the Canadian Women’s Foundation and Grand Challenges Canada.

Grand Challenges would focus on supporting Indigenous women innovators and entrepreneurs while the women’s foundation would support Indigenous women in remote and northern regions, Monsef said.

She said the government will immediately start matching donations dollar for dollar.

Jess Tomlin, co-founder of the Equality Fund, said the Match International Women’s Fund, which she heads, is already partnered with 40 developing countries in regions including Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

The Equality Fund is currently working to create new partnerships, she said.

The Match Fund invests directly in women leaders driving change at the local level, said Tomlin, who noted the fund supports a range of initiatives such as campaigns to fight child marriage and to encourage women to run in local elections.

“As the designers of the Equality Fund it was always instrumental for us that this not just be a global equation. We’ve done work to bring (on) domestic partners,” she said, adding the Community Foundations of Canada works in 191 Canadian communities, which would help the Equality Fund reach women through their local organizations.

The success stories of many women are preceded by a dilemma which often stands as an inspiration to others later.   The ups and downs of life often require a leveler to scale the odds.

Our Amazonpreneur for this week is Victoria Kisyombe, a trailblazer in Tanzania whose story is an inspiration and a pointer to possibilities.

Victoria’s journey to entrepreneurship began after she suddenly lost her husband and breadwinner of the family in 1991. Unlike some widows, Victoria inherited nothing from her late husband, and this made life extremely difficult for her and her three young children.

Victoria had a cow called Sero and that was the only thing she had that could bring in money for her to sustain her home. Victoria began milking Sero and selling the milk to sustain her family. Over a period of time, she was able to put together some money that can rebuild her life. She thoroughly thought of what she could invest on. Through deep thinking, Victoria realized there were women, widows and young girls who were not educated like she was and were worst off financially than her.  She thought of how they were surviving since they had no asset like Sero to survive on. An innovative idea struck and this has completely changed her life for the better.

Thirty-three percent of the people in Tanzania live below the poverty line. Women struggle to open and grow businesses without the collateral needed to qualify for loans. More than 90 percent of women do not own property due to the country’s customary laws, which in most cases supersede other laws; this exclusion propels many women into a cycle of poverty.

Although the situation seemed too difficult, however Victoria saw it as an opportunity to turn around the restrictions in other to accommodate women’s economic participation in Tanzania. She restructured the conventional system of micro-finance in Tanzania so that the criteria for eligibility could allow women with no assets and little business experience take loans to engage in commercial activities to support themselves and their families. In 2002, she opened a micro leasing called SELFINA, which she named after her cow Sero (Sero Lease and Finance Limited). SELFINA was launched in Dar es Salaam and the organisation was involved in loaning and leasing productive assets. The requirement for consideration was the client’s ability to generate cash flow. The leased assets enable women to generate income sustainably, and at the end of the lease a client owns the asset in her own name. It becomes collateral that qualifies her for a traditional bank loan.

Twelve years later, Victoria and her team have provided 25,000 leases to women, USD $16 million in credit, impacted more than 200,000 people and created 125,000 jobs. A repayment rate of 95 percent enabled the company to keep growing; to serve more women and their families.

Up till date, SELFINA has been a catalyst for women’s entrepreneurship, responsible for the launch of a range of small businesses and enterprises. The bank leases just about everything, from tractors, photocopiers, ovens, and livestock, and her clients are a diverse group including florists, caterers, fashion designers, and farmers.

Most of the clients, are rural settlers who are widows and young women who would not otherwise have access to the opportunity SELFINA provides. Victoria has designed a solution that meets her community’s needs, and she has built a model recognized by the World Bank and World Economic Forum.

Her entrepreneurship fuels bigger dreams, bigger goals. “If I can change the life of one person it makes a whole difference because behind that person there is a whole family. It’s a family, it’s a society, it’s Tanzania.” Victoria plans to open offices across Tanzania and has her sights set on expanding to other countries in East Africa.

Miracle Nwankwo

Keynote speaker at the just concluded SADC Women Summit organized by CELD in collaboration with CLGE.

Honourable Gladys Kokorwe , born 28 November 1947 is a Botswana politician who has been the Speaker of the National Assembly since November 2014.

Prior to entering politics, Kokorwe was a senior civil servant. She was elected to the National Assembly at the 1994 general election, and served as an assistant minister in the government of Festus Mogae from 1999 to 2004. She was deputy speaker from 2004 to 2008, and then a minister in Ian Khama’s government from 2008 to 2009, when she left parliament. Kokorwe served as Botswana’s ambassador to Zimbabwe from 2009 to 2014, and then re-entered politics after the 2014 election, when she was the successful BDP candidate for speaker.

Kokorwe was born in Cape Town, South Africa, where her father (originally from Botswana) was working. She was sent back to Botswana at the age of 10, and went to primary school in Thamaga, Kweneng District. Her secondary schooling was completed at Moeng College, a boarding school in the Tswapong Hills. After leaving school, Kokorwe joined the public service, where she initially worked as a typist and minor clerical worker. She eventually came to hold various high-level administrative positions in local government, serving for periods as the commercial officer for Lobatse, the town clerk of Sowa and Gaborone, and assistant council secretary for the Kgatleng District. After a term as the chief training officer for local government officials, she returned to the Kgatleng District as its chief executive officer (CEO).

At the 1994 general election, Kokorwe was elected to the National Assembly for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), representing the Thamaga constituency previously held by Peter Mmusi (a former vice-president who died just before the election). She switched to the new Kweneng South constituency at the 1999 election, and was subsequently appointed Assistant Minister of Local Government (under senior minister Margaret Nasha) by President Festus Mogae. Kokorwe was left out of the ministry after the 2004 election, but was instead elected deputy speaker, becoming the first woman to hold the position In March 2004.

In April 2008, Kokorwe was appointed Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture in the new cabinet formed by Ian Khama, who had succeeded Festus Mogae as president. She served as a minister until the 2009 general election, at which she retired from parliament. In August 2008, Kokorwe had become the first parliamentarian in Botswana’s history to have a private member’s bill become law. Her bill, which she had tabled before being appointed to cabinet, aimed to better protect victims of domestic violence, and was passed into law in September 2008 as the Domestic Violence Act. A few months after leaving parliament, in December 2009, Ian Khama appointed Kokorwe as Botswana’s ambassador to Zimbabwe. She was based in Harare, but also had non-resident accreditation to Malawi, Mozambique, and Madagascar.

In November 2014, after the 2014 general election, Kokorwe returned to politics as the BDP nominee for the speakership of the National Assembly.

Honourouble Kokorwe is the Keynote Speaker for the maiden edition of the SADC women forum and leadership excellence award.

Stacey Abrams made a strong indication that she could be jumping into the 2020 Democratic primary race.

When the former Georgia House minority leader was asked if she was still considering launching a bid for president, Abrams told progressive political podcast, Pod Save America, “Yes.”

When the podcast tweeted out the excerpt of the interview, Abrams reposted it to her Twitter.

Abrams announced last month that she would not be seeking a Senate run in 2020 in challenging Republican Senator for Georgia David Perdue.

“I am announcing today that I will not be be a candidate for the U.S. Senate,” Abrams said in a video posted to Twitter April 30. “The fights to be waged require a deep commitment to the job, and I do not see the U.S. Senate as the best role for me in this battle for our nation’s future.”

Several Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have been pushing for Abrams to make a Senate run next year to flip a seat in Georgia, which has been Republican-controlled since 2003.

Since 2005 Georgia has had all Republican governors, U.S. House representatives and U.S. senators.

Schumer also tapped Abrams to deliver the Democrat rebuttal to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address earlier this year. 

When Abrams announced she would not be running for a Senate seat to represent Georgia, it raised speculation that she could be preparing to mount a presidential run in a crowded field where 22 other Democrats are already running.

Abrams ran an unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign against Brian Kemp in the 2018 midterm elections.

Even though Kemp beat Abrams by more than 50,000 votes and held 50.2 per cent of the vote – while Abrams earned 48.8 per cent – she claims she would have won had it have not been for ‘racist’ voter suppression laws.

Abrams had a lot of backing from Democratic lawmakers and celebrities in her run to become the first black female Governor in the U.S., including a strong endorsement from media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who also campaigned on Abrams behalf.

Earlier in April, the Georgia Democrats made it clear that she felt she could hold off on announcing whether she was running in 2020 until after Labor Day weekend 2019, or potentially even later.

‘I don’t think you actually have to make a decision about the White House before the fall,’ she told MSNBC on April 4.

If Abrams were to wait until then to launch her campaign for president, three Democratic presidential debates would have already taken place – one in June, July and a third in August.

The fourth debate is scheduled for September. 

‘I think it’s important that people are having these conversations now,’ Abrams said. ‘But I’m not going to make a decision driven by other peoples’ timelines.’

The first caucus, in Iowa, will be held at the beginning of February, which would be only four months after Abrams announces if she waits until September to make her bid. By September there could be even more than 22 Democrats running for president, as many have signaled they are considering entering the race to take on Trump in 2020.

Previously, Abrams name was floated as a potential running mate of former Vice President Joe Biden, who announced he was entering the race in late April.

On an interview with The View, Abrams dispelled the speculation and said, ‘You don’t run for second place’ – another indicator that she could be preparing to make a bid for the Democratic nomination.

“If I’m going to enter a primary, then I’m going to enter a primary,” she said told The View roundtable. “If I don’t enter a primary, my job is to make certain that the best Democrat becomes the nominee and whoever wins the primary, that we make sure that person gets elected in 2020. Running in a primary to be the vice president is very different than someone who has been selected by the party to be the nominee asking you to serve as a partner.”

Source: Daily Mail

Iranian women made history Thursday after they were allowed for the first time in 40 years to attend a football game in a stadium, sitting next to men, to watch the national male football team play Bolivia in a friendly. Around 300 female supporters sat in the terraces of Tehran stadium to witness the victory of national Team Melli defeat Bolivia 2-1 in a friendly.

The women, mostly the players’ family and friends, players and coaches of the Iranian national women’s team and some fans, materialized the victory of a 40-year struggle they have been waging since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The Iranian captain Hossien Mahini praised the permission given by authorities who have made Iran one of the very few remaining countries in the region to officially prohibit women from attending football games.

Some women, in an attempt to break the ban, had to disguise as men to enter local football league games.

Though they were banned to attend male football games at home, several Iranian women managed to attend matches of the national team during the June-July 2018 FIFA world cup in Russia.

Source: Middle East Confidential