Garcia Calls For More Women In Power

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At an event recognizing women making a difference in their communities, Assemblymember Cristina Garcia praised the work these women are doing in her district, and expressed hope more women will soon take on leadership roles in Sacramento.

Reflecting on her peers in the California State Assembly, Garcia said as one of the very few women in state office, she sometimes feels like a second-class citizen.

Now in her third year representing the 58th district, Garcia said there needs to be more women in the California Legislature.

“It is time for us as women to start demanding our half of the pie,” she said Friday during her annual Women of the Year event at the Southern California Edison facility in Downey.

Women make up half of the country’s population, yet their numbers in elected office fall far short of parity in the political arena, she pointed out.

“We have to force our way” into the male-dominated arena!”

There are currently only 31 women in the State Legislature – 19 out of 80 elected officials in the State Assembly and 12 out of 40 in the State Senate.

(California's Legislative Women's Caucus)

(California’s Legislative Women’s Caucus)

The lack of female representation in Congress is just as staggering. Of 435 U.S. Representatives, only 82 are women. Similarly, out of 100 U.S. Senators, only 21 are women.

Minorities are also disproportionately underrepresented.

“We don’t have a single Latina in the State Senate,” Garcia pointed out.

Worse still, the number of women in office is decreasing. Women can’t just settle for the small gains that have been made, they need to do more, she said forcefully.

Being a woman in state office can be lonely, according to the assemblywoman. She said male legislators tend to work closer with other men than their female counterparts.

“I don’t get paid more for being a woman but I sometimes find myself having to work ten times more than my [male]colleagues,” she complained.

Some of my male colleagues still make sexist remarks and I have to call them on it, she said incredulously.

Last year, Garcia was nominated to serve as vice chair for the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, which represents and advocates on behalf of the interest of women, children and families.

She at first did not feel ready for the added responsibility, but quickly realized it would be the opportune position to advocate for more women in politics and to recognize those women who make a difference in their communities.

In February, EMILY’s List nominated her for its 2015 Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award.

EMILY’s List is a national women’s political organization that has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for women candidates for office. The award is given to a woman in local or state office whose work shows an extraordinary “commitment to community, dedication to women and families …”

“We have to become leaders! ” Garcia told attendees at the event. “But we need to come back to the community that invested in [us].”

Following the event, Garcia told EGP she believes the best way to address the shortage of women in elected office is  to prepare more women for the job.

She said she is hopeful the tide may be turning.

“We may have our first female president” soon, she said excitedly.

“I just can’t believe it has taken this long.”

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