Women in Elected Office: The Greatest Rising Force in American Politics

by Elysian Magazine

The National Foundation for Women Legislators, or NFWL, believes that the greatest rising force in US politics today is not a political party, nor is it a lobbying community. It is women.

NFWL is a nonpartisan 501(c)3 educational foundation for elected women on the state, county, and municipal levels. The organization hosts one issue-specific summit every summer, and one national Annual Conference every November. It also hosts in-state events at every opportunity.

The mission of NFWL is to provide strategic resources to elected women for leadership development, exchange of diverse legislative ideas, and effective governance through conferences, state outreach, educational materials, professional and personal relationships, and networking. Additionally, NFWL always encourages the election and/or appointment of women to public office.

Since 1938, NFWL has served as a forum for elected women from across the country to be empowered through information and experience. As the oldest organization for elected women in America and the only one that includes women on the city, county and state levels, we encourage our members to take leadership roles and form connections across the aisle.

“We know that by working together we can achieve our goals,” said S.C. Sen. Katrina Shealy, our chairwoman.

At the June 2022 Healthcare Summit in Washington, D.C., NFWL brought together 35 elected women who serve on healthcare-related committees or are in the healthcare field themselves for two days of programming on a variety of issues, such as Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS), the healthcare worker shortage, Alzheimer’s, telemedicine, obesity, and postpartum depression.

Past issue summits have focused on workforce development, leadership training, cannabis policy, and human trafficking.

In March 2020, staff immediately pivoted to digital programming, which consisted of a heavily promoted webinar and follow-up for several weeks to provide information for anyone unable to be on the Zoom. Members are still able to access those programs on the NFWL website.

Another popular online service available to our members is our Grab ’n Go. Legislators can find information on fiscal policy, human trafficking, period poverty, helping aging Americans, and more.

NFWL also brings focus digitally to Women’s History Month, and it has developed toolkits for busy legislators to find easy ways to celebrate and honor the month with film screenings featuring Iron Jawed Angels or Hidden Figures, children’s book events with Rosie Revere Engineer, our “Flat Susan B. Anthony” campaign – designed to help elected women across the country celebrate the Suffrage Centennial – and a proclamation for “Honoring Women in Public Office Day” on March 19, which has passed in 18 state legislatures, 30 municipalities and is still growing.

In 2021, NFWL collaborated with Kimberly-Clark on period poverty access initiatives in California, Delaware, Florida, New Jersey, and Texas.

“I am so thrilled to host our Annual Conference in 2022 in Charleston, South Carolina,” Shealy said. “It’s a great way to showcase all the wonderful areas in our state. We have mountains and rivers and beaches and festivals and the best food in the world, so we want our attendees to arrive before the conference and stay after it’s over to enjoy more of our great state!”

She continued: “The Annual Conference fosters a safe environment for sharing ideas, discussing current events, and learning about new initiatives and programs. From policy presentations to fun networking, the Annual Conference is a must for elected women, and we can’t wait for what Charleston has in store!”

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