Activist Superstars Join Forces to Drive Women to the Polls in 2020 - Rolling Stone
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Activist Superstars Join Forces to Drive Women to the Polls in 2020

Cecile Richards, Ai-Jen Poo, and Alicia Garza on the fight to achieve gender parity in American politics

Alicia Garza and Cecile Richards

Valerie Chiang for Rolling Stone

After the 2017 Women’s March, women kept stopping Cecile Richards on the street, on the subway, at events. They all had the same question: “‘What am I supposed to do now? I’ve marched, I’ve called my member of Congress, but I know there’s more I can do,’ ” says Richards, who helped build Planned Parenthood into a political juggernaut during her 12-year tenure as president.

She wasn’t alone. Ai-Jen Poo, co-founder of the National Domestic Workers Alliance in Chicago, and Alicia Garza, who helped build the Black Lives Matter movement from Oakland, were having the same conversations.

“We had this sense that women were on fire and ready to take action,” Garza says. “And maybe also a little bit anxious that energy was going to peter out, that women would turn away and go back to their lives.”

So in 2019, Richards, Poo, and Garza combined their considerable powers to form Supermajority, a community of women activists now 200,000 strong, offering training in the “nuts and bolts” of organizing. The name is a nod to the numbers: Women, Richards says, comprise not just the majority of voters in this country, but also the majority of activists. And yet the issues that impact women the most — reproductive health care, equal pay, child care, sexual violence — are treated as ancillary in the political conversation.

Consider the fact that one of the Democratic debates took place on the second anniversary of the #MeToo movement going viral, when 12 million survivors of sexual harassment and violence spoke up about their experiences, but “not a single question came up during the debate about sexual violence and how we would support survivors,” Poo says.

Or the fact that women are now the majority of payroll earners in the U.S. while still being the vast majority of caregivers, and in some states child care is more expensive than housing costs. “The fact that [the burden of caregiving] essentially falls on women, who are now the majority of the workforce, is just completely unsustainable,” Richards says. “There is literally no plan.”

There have been strides — a historic number of women elected in 2018; the Equal Rights Amendment is the closest it’s been to ratification in a century — and Supermajority hopes to build on that success in 2020. Its goal is to organize 2 million women ahead of the election with voter education, registration, and turnout drives. It plans to target specific states, like Michigan, where more than a million eligible residents are not registered to vote — and where the 2016 election was decided by 10,700 voters.

“Women want to win,” Garza says. “We’re tired of being told that just because there’s one woman somewhere that equality has been achieved. We’re not passive agents here. We’re actually the people that this country’s been waiting for.”


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