Project Elect: Assisting CoJC Women to Run for Office


I am so stoked to see a new nationwide effort, called Project Elect, to assist female members of the Church of Jesus Christ to run for office! There is a great write-up in the Deseret News about that initiative today. They have a website, also:

The organization is non-partisan and non-profit, and is not affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ. One of the founders, Audrey Martin, explains why she helped begin the project:

“Latter-day Saint women have all these skills they’ve learned in church callings — they are wonderful negotiators, they have public speaking skills, they know how to get along with other, they are great listeners — all the things you would want in a community leader, these women had,” she said. “I wondered, ‘Why aren’t these women running for office?’ These are exactly the sort of people that we need in political office. That inspired me to start this organization.”

According to the article, they help mentor women who want to run for office, and also offer volunteer opportunities for those who don't want to run themselves, but want to help CoJC women get elected. One of the more interesting things they offer is a digital certificate that you can send to a woman, encouraging her to think of herself as qualified to run for office. You can list her Church callings and what skills and experience she has gained from those, and the certificate declares she is qualified to run for office. That's a very cool idea, especially since most women do not associate their Church callings with preparation to stand for office.

Another cool idea is their page for Church leaders, offering three ways these leaders can help the effort. One way is to read a letter encouraging members of their congregation to become involved in politics. Another is to present women in their congregations with the afore-mentioned certificates. But a third way is unusual:

"When women Church leaders are released from time- and energy-intensive callings, they are often left with two assets critical to community service: freed-up time in their schedules and significant leadership skills. Your Relief Society presidency, bishopric, ward council, stake council, or stake presidency could decide as a formal policy or an informal policy to help women make space for this kind of community service just by not calling them to other time-intensive callings and by clearly encouraging those sisters to find a community organization with which to share her time and Church-honed talents.

"The primary benefits of this are not political, of course; they are the benefits of greater interfaith unity and community energizing. But the way this can encourage women in their efforts to run for office is that it can help member-women strengthen their connections to organizations outside the Church community. It will also give them Church-sanctioned permission to develop experience and relationships that can strengthen their ability to be a good candidate—board membership positions, committee leadership positions, and greater budgeting and fiscal decision making responsibilities. It’s a win for everyone."

That's a unique idea, isn't it?

Often women see public activities and their private home life commitments as a zero-sum game. But political leadership is surely an extension of motherhood and womanhood: “The children that you are nurturing and raising today are going to go out into the world tomorrow. Should that be a world that has been shaped only by men, with men’s priorities and concerns at the forefront and without the benefit of women’s wisdom? Certainly not. If we care for the next generation, then good women need to stand for political office to help rectify some of the problems with male-only leadership of our world.”

Congratulations to those behind Project Elect, and may it be stunningly successful!