Every year, many women across Washington state work hard to ensure that women win campaigns and are represented equally in political leadership roles. They make phone calls; they go door-to-door; they manage assets; they provide the support and important encouragement. These women are the backbone of so many successful campaigns, but oftentimes remain behind the scenes – the unsung heroines. On Sunday, December 11th, they were honored at the Heroines of 2011 Award Ceremony, a reception hosted by the National Women's Political Caucus of Washington.
The National Women's Political Caucus of Washington is a multi-partisan grassroots membership organization dedicated to engaging women in the political process and increasing the number of women in elected and appointed office at all levels of government. Its mission is to identify, mentor, educate and support women leaders in the community who demonstrate a commitment to Women's Economic and Social Equality and Reproductive Freedom.
In the weeks before the event, women nominated an outstanding "heroine" a woman who was indispensable to their campaign - to be publicly honored by the NWPC. The event featured about 20 strong and hard-working women, each leaders in their own right and each furthering the values of the NWPC in their own way. Despite being from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, the Campaign Heroines all shared an unwavering dedication not only to the campaigns they served on, but also to the women candidates themselves. While technical management and assistance was undoubtedly recognized, nearly every woman spoke of the emotional support and friendship their Campaign Heroines provided to them over the course of the campaign. For instance, in honoring the Honorable Val Ogden, Representative Sharon Wylie of the 49th legislative district in Clark County, commented that “Val’s support, friendship and faith in me inspire me to be the best public servant I can be”; and candidate Linda Barnfather thanked her heroine, whom she referred to as “the extraordinary Nancy Biery” and said “she's a leader, a friend, and I am happy that she chose me and my race.”
Many fought against formidable opponents - anti-choice incumbents, male conservatives with financial backing - and won. While their victories are enormous, the contributions of the Heroines who made it happen are equally significant.
When positions from school boards to representative seats are occupied by a disproportionate number of male politicians, it is imperative to step up and equalize the playing field. As freelance writer and Campaign Heroine Joan Cronk says, "After so many years, I am tired of my gender being poorly represented in my government."
“This is our favorite event of the year”, said event co-chair, Sharon Paige. “The stories that candidates tell when honoring their Heroines are so inspirational, we are pleased to be able to provide this well-deserved recognition to women who are making a difference!”.
Each campaign Heroine received a certificate with the words of their nominator, a wine glass commemorating the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in Washington, and a one-year membership in the NWPC.
Posted by NWPC-WA Guest Blogger, Juliya Ziskina