State Rep: Illinois Women Struggle To Enter Politics
A statewide panel focused on curbing sexual harassment and providing women with greater access to the political arena is wrapping up its work.
The nonpartisan Anti-Harassment, Equality and Access Panel includes Democratic state Comptroller Susana Mendoza, state Sen. Melinda Bush (D-31) and state Rep. Carol Ammons. Ammons said the group traveled across the state — from Edwardsville to Chicago — hosting listening sessions with women who have experience working in government and politics.
Ammons, an Urbana Democrat, said a few common themes have emerged. One issue she said she’s heard over and over again from women: “There are significant barriers to entry and significant resource barriers for women who either want to run for office or who want to work in the political arena.”
Illinois is ranked sixth in the country for the number of women who occupy state-elected offices, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutger’s University.
Still, without equal gender in representation in state politics, Ammons said the issues that affect women across the state get left out of the political conversation.
“Half of the population is left out of the decision making and it impacts us every single day,” she said.
Ammons said the panel will take what they’ve heard during their listening sessions and craft a set of recommendations for public bodies and political parties. She said she and her fellow panelists can’t force anyone to act on those recommendations, but she hopes they do.
“Now how those recommendations get implemented will be dependent on other public bodies and other public officials,” Ammons said.
For her part, Ammons said she plans to partner with Bush to push legislation forward based on the panel’s recommendations. She said those recommendations should be published sometime in late August or early September.
Follow Lee Gaines on Twitter: @LeeVGaines.