The Status of Women in North Carolina: Political Participation

STATUS OF WOMEN IN NC: POLITICAL PARTICIPATION REPORT
POLITICAL PARTICIPATION REPORT PRESENTATION

While women in North Carolina have been voting at slightly higher rates in recent years, their representation in elected office has declined. The NC Council for Women & Youth Involvement in conjunction with the Institute for Women's Policy Research released The 2020 Status of Women in NC: Political Participation Report. The report presents data on several aspects of women’s involvement in the political process in North Carolina, including comparisons to other states and the nation. It includes data on voter registration and turnout, female state and federal elected and appointed representation, and state-based institutional resources for women. Data from the report shows that, while some progress has been made in women’s political participation in North Carolina, obstacles persist at all levels.

Some key findings from the report include:

  • While North Carolina women have been voting at slightly higher rates in recent years, their representation in elected office has declined.
  • While women make up 51 percent of our state’s population, the majority of North Carolina political office holders at the state and federal levels remain male.
  • At the current rate of change, it will be the year 2084 before women reach parity in the Legislature.

The Political Participation Composite Index featured in this year’s report combines four component indicators of women’s political status: voter registration, voter turnout, representation in elected office, and women’s institutional resources. North Carolina ranks 35th in the United States overall on the Political Participation Composite Index – earning the state a “D” grade on the index.

Recommendations from the report include:

  • Preparing strategies to ensure the safety of voters during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes increasing electronic voter registration, expanding use of absentee ballots and mail in voting, and making election day a paid holiday so those who are able to make it to the polls have the time off from work needed to wait in longer, socially distanced lines. Additional activities could also include increasing the number of polling locations to help cut down the number of people voting at one location.
  • Ensuring that all women have equal access to a fair electoral process. This includes implementing a fair system of drawing the state’s political maps – to combat gerrymandering – and eliminating unjust voter ID laws that disenfranchise vulnerable women.
  • Recruiting more women to run for office and supporting women with mentoring, sponsorship, and education and training programs. Asking and encouraging women to run for political office is a vital part of increasing women’s representation in office at all levels.

The NC Council for Women & Youth Involvement in partnership with the Institute for Women's Policy Research held three virtual Political Participation Report launch events in August 2020.  If you missed an event, a recording is available to view below. Each report launch event featured women leaders highlighted in the report.

 

August 11, 2020     

Missed the event? Watch it here.

August 18, 2020  

Missed the event? Watch it here.

August 25, 2020    

Missed the event? Watch it here.

Speakers include: Speakers include: Speakers include:
Secretary Machelle Sanders
NCDOA
Secretary Machelle Sanders
NCDOA
Secretary Machelle Sanders
NCDOA
Elyse Shaw
IWPR
Elyse Shaw
IWPR
Elyse Shaw
IWPR
Commissioner Nida Allam
Durham County
Commissioner Marikay Abuzuaiter
Greensboro City Council
Sheriff Paula Dance
Pitt County
Senator Valerie Foushee
NC General Assembly
(D-23rd)
Dr. Whitney Manzo
Meredith College
Jo Nicholas
President, League of Women Voters
Sarah Preston
Executive Director
Lillian's List
Representative Sarah Stevens
House Speaker Pro-Tempore
NC General Assembly
(R-90th)
Judge Robin Robinson
District Court Judge, 5th District
 

Nyanna Sherrod
President, Rocky Mount Area Youth Council
Member, State Youth Council

Panel Moderator: Mary Williams-Stover, Executive Director, NC Council for Women & Youth Involvement

 

MEET THE WOMEN LEADERS FEATURED IN THE REPORT