We the Majority

We the Majority

By Rep. Renee Ellmers

Congresswoman Renee Ellmers speaks to the media after the first North Carolina 2nd Congressional District debate between Democratic challenger Clay Aiken, the American Idol runner-up, and Republican incumbent Ellmers.


Here’s how the Republican Party can bring more women into the fold. 

By Rep. Renee Ellmers

Women constitute more than half of our country’s population. In fact, we represent 52 percent of the United States’ voting electorate. To state this differently: We are the majority.

In Congress, our representation stands at only 18 percent, and we hold perhaps 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions. But women are not a coalition or subset of the population. In fact, we have the numbers to change the status quo and determine the direction our country heads. Women will decide if Republicans win the majority in the Senate and which party will take the White House in 2016.

It’s past time for my party to relate to the modern American woman as the majority.

It’s past time for my party to relate to the modern American woman as the majority. But the good news for Republicans is that our party has done a substantial amount of work in areas that matter most to women — the economy, education and jobs. We’ve worked to create good-paying jobs, worked to grow a healthy economy and worked tirelessly to take care of American families.

For example, it was a Republican woman in the House of Representatives who spearheaded legislation called the Working Families Flexibility Act, which aims to give parents greater flexibility in terms of paid leave. This legislation provides working parents with the opportunity to spend more time with their families, whether it’s attending parent-teacher conferences at school or staying home to care for aging parents or a newborn baby. It was also a Republican woman in the House who produced legislation called the SKILLS Act, which provides workers with the skills, education and training they need to succeed in the workforce.

However, to truly succeed in engaging the female majority, our party and the political system must start with education. We need to teach girls at an even earlier stage about the necessity of getting involved in the political sphere, the importance of learning about the government and the ways the Republican Party is working for them. We can do this by providing students with opportunities through programs, internships and fellowships so they can practice putting knowledge into action — and we should tap into our school systems for assistance in recruiting motivated young girls to partake in these opportunities.

Rep. Renee Ellmers, stands with her family and Speaker of the House John Boehner, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, in Washington.

Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., stands with her family and Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, left, in the Capitol.

Source J. Scott Applewhite/AFP/Corbis

The bottom line is that we need to provide women with more opportunities to hear about the Republican Party.

One such program is Running Start, which was established to remedy the low number of women serving as elected officials. I am fortunate to work with this organization’s Star Fellowship Program in an effort to give female students exposure to and hands-on training in the political process. I am proud to say that we have had four young ladies join our office for semester-long internships through this program.

Women2Women is another example of the type of innovative program needed to educate and involve more women in the political realm. I had the opportunity to speak to this group in Charlotte, and it is truly focused on educating women about issues of importance to them — jobs, the economy and health care. It is exactly the type of initiative this country needs more of if we expect to involve more women in the political process.

The bottom line is that we need to provide women with more opportunities to hear about the Republican Party, its goals and objectives, and how we are working to empower each of them. In an effort to recruit and encourage more conservative women to run for office, I worked with other House Republican women to establish an initiative called Project GROW, which stands for “Growing Republican Opportunities for Women.” It specifically works with female candidates to assist them with messaging, polling, fundraising and candidate training so they can build a robust and winning campaign. With the help of Project GROW, there are 11 conservative female candidates who made it through their primaries and now march toward Nov. 4.

If Republicans want to engage women, we need to speak in a way that commands their attention. We need to speak about how today’s policies and current events directly affect them, their budgets, their livelihoods and the people who matter most in their lives: their families. The first step to addressing our engagement problem is through education. We need to convey how the party is working to empower and uplift women. And we should start by doing exactly that — engaging young, motivated women who express an interest in these matters. We need real initiatives and projects that seek to inform and explain the importance of remaining engaged in the political process.

Through these efforts, I am confident that we will recruit larger numbers of women to step into this realm, and that women’s representation in office will soon reflect a number truer to form — 52 percent — because, after all, we are the majority.