Kansas Nonprofit Expands Efforts To Get More Women Into Civic Roles

Nov 30, 2017

More than 60 percent of Kansas women vote—but only about a quarter of state elected offices are held by women. A Kansas City-based nonprofit is expanding its efforts to change that, starting at the local level.

The greatest barrier to getting women involved in politics, says Wendy Doyle, president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation: “Women want to be asked to serve.”

So in 2014, the group launched the Appointments Project, which aims to get women appointed to city, county and state boards and commissions. Now, the Women’s Foundation is partnering with the Kansas League of Municipalities, Kansas State University and the Kansas Health Foundation to recruit and train more women to serve on local boards—and maybe go on to elected positions.

“We just need more leadership so that women can be represented, sit at the table and make policy-making decisions to impact women and their families," Doyle says.

Mayor Jeff Longwell helped introduce the new partnership at his briefing on Thursday. He acknowledged the work of outgoing Wichita City Councilwoman Lavonta Williams and Vice Mayor Janet Miller.

"And the reality is we need more women like them in government," he said. "It's not a secret that there's a disparate number of men versus women in all levels of politics."

More than 800 women have applied to the Appointments Project so far, and 82 have been appointed to boards and commissions in Kansas and Missouri.

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