Editorial: Voters in Los Angeles and California elected a wave of women in statewide races in early September. Not only did the elections mark a sea change in women’s representation, they also delivered decisive victories for some of those in the state legislature in the process.
The legislature is where the most ground-breaking policy efforts originate, and a number of bills introduced during the 2017 session will impact women’s lives.
“It’s very exciting,” said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Democrat of Los Angeles. “There’s a lot of opportunity to move forward. … These are women who are running, and they are running because they want the opportunity to make change.”
For women seeking to advance policy agendas that reflect the interests of women, the 2017 session is a crucial opportunity. As our Statehouse correspondent pointed out, there are fewer women in the legislature overall because not a single woman was elected to the state Senate last year.
While the women in the legislature represent a relatively small portion of the women in California, there are an estimated 70 to 90 female candidates running for office.
And although the women’s votes were more than what they typically send, female candidates won more seats on the State Assembly than ever before.
The State Assembly is the most powerful legislative body in the state, and women have the biggest opportunity to play a role in the redistricting process if an effort to reduce the districting map proposed by the Supreme Court this year passes.
And in addition to redistricting, there are multiple measures for women and non-binary people to advocate for, including the Gender Equity Act, a bill to protect the rights of transgender people in the workplace and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which the state senate failed to send for the 2018 session.
“I think it’s a huge accomplishment [for women] to be given the opportunity as voters to elect female legislators and to elect those who are the best leaders for the future of Californians,” said Maria Elena Hernandez, a former Los Angeles councilwoman and longtime Democratic strategist.
Women voters had many other things going for them in the 2017 ballot.
A statewide voter initiative, California’s Reproductive Privacy Act, received support from more than 50 percent of Californians by providing information on the use of sperm and other