DES MOINES, IOWA -- One hundred years ago, today would have been a fantasy for women in politics. "Our right to vote was not just given to us, it was fought for," said Melissa Gesing, Executive Director of the Iowa non-profit 50/50 In 2020 which was founded in 2010. "The goal is to achieve gender equity in Iowa at the state and federal level by the year 2020 which is the anniversary of Women's Suffrage."
To achieve such a goal, the organization needed a female U.S. Senator. Republican Joni Ernst checked that box in 2014. Next a Governor and that glass ceiling was shattered this past election by Republican Kim Reynolds. Thursday, another need was met. Two females in the U.S. House of Representatives made Democrats Cindy Axne and Abby Finkenauer the latest women to hurdle barriers that once seemed untouchable. "It is very significant because we have two women with different backgrounds, different age groups who are showing others it can be done," said Gesing.
Iowa women completing equity goals on the federal level but paving a road that remains under construction when it comes to female representation in the state house and senate. Gesing said, "We are at twenty-nine percent of the state legislature being females so we have a little ways to go to achieve equity there but we are very excited."
There may be gridlock in the upcoming session when it comes to hot button issues at the state capitol but 50/50 In 2020 believes when state leaders reach across the aisle to lift up their fellow female it creates a stronger Iowa. "It's really important for all voters to come together and realize that a representative government is a great thing. We need more viewpoints and life experiences at the table," said Gesing.
Iowa's twenty-nine percent female state legislature as above the national average of twenty-eight percent. The state of Nevada leads the country with 50.8% followed by Colorado at 45%.