Happy Earth Day!

 

Today marks the 50th nationally recognized Earth Day, a day to pause and think about what we can do to support and care for our planet. Here are three things to remember about women + politics + the environment:

1) Women in legislative positions are more likely to support pro-environment policies.

Research has shown that around the world, there is a strong link between female representation in politics and the adoption of stronger climate policies. In the U.S. alone, a report came out last year that showed women legislators support legislation that protects or preserves the environment more frequently and consistently than their male counterparts.

2) In 2018, a record-making year for women, women candidates across the country had success highlighting their backgrounds with environmental causes.

Research shows that that voters respond to women who are running because they saw the impact of an issue, and the freshman class of the 116th Congress found success in prioritizing climate change in their campaigns. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York credits her visit to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests of 2016 as the last straw that pushed her into entering politics. Congresswoman Rashida Tlalib has fought to clean up the Detroit River since her days in the Michigan state legislature, and Congresswoman Veronica Escobar fought against reopening a smelting company near El Paso, Texas.

3) For many women candidates, environmental issues are personal.

Senator Elizabeth Warren framed fighting climate change as a willingness to “invest in our children’s and grandchildren’s futures.” For many women candidates who highlight environmental policies on the campaign trail, it’s not just about protecting the planet – it’s about protecting their families. And by highlighting different facets of experience they bring to the table, women are better able to connect with voters.

The personification of this approach is Kelda Roys, who ran for governor in Wisconsin in 2018. She talked about her work to ban toxic chemicals in baby bottles while breastfeeding her daughter in a campaign ad.  While Roys didn’t win her election, she did show voters exactly why this issue was so important to her and families across the state.

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