Only When the Government Truly Represents Women Will the U.S. Have a Real Democracy

For 400+ years, we’ve been playing by their rules. (You know—the ones cisgender white men made.) Not any more. Women are the majority of voters in this country and together we have the power. It’s time for a new set of rules that values all of us—our bodies, our lives and our work. The Majority Rules project—an artful essay and op-ed series from Ms. and Supermajority Education Fund—marks an essential step toward achieving gender equality.

Majority Rule 5: Our government represents us.

(video narrated by Alicia Garza; op-ed by Katherine Grainger)

In the 2022 midterm elections, a powerful coalition of women voters—led by young women—turned out in record numbers to create a government that works for them. In states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, they elected candidates who promised to defend women’s freedoms, and across the country, women voted to protect abortion access through five state ballot measures.

For generations, women have been marching, organizing, running for office, donating and voting. Because of the persistence of women, we elected the first female vice president, rallied support for the first Black female Supreme Court justice, and urged state legislatures across the country to uphold our basic freedoms. But the incredibly high stakes of the midterm elections—and direct attacks on abortion that literally put women’s lives on the ballot—reflect the harsh reality that we have much more to do to create a future where women are truly equal.

To elect more women who we can depend on to champion our rights at all levels of government, we need to ensure that every single person who is able to vote, no matter their race, gender or ZIP code, has an equal say at the ballot box. Throughout history, women have been at the forefront of defending the freedom to vote, and we continue to volunteer in large numbers to work at the polls and as election officials, taking a major role in protecting our democracy. 

Women are the majority of people in this country, yet far too often our government fails to represent us or recognize “women’s issues” like abortion access, child care, and paid family leave as what they truly are: issues that affect everyone and when protected make our society better.

As of 2023, women make up a little over a quarter of Congress and around one-third of state legislators. This is an alarmingly low number of women leaders who are able to have a say when issues that uniquely matter to us are debated in the halls of power.

Heading into the 2022 midterm elections, people across the U.S. worried about ongoing threats to our democracy and voted against political violence and extremism. But some politicians and corporate interests continue to push anti-voter laws that silence marginalized voices, secretly inject billions of dollars to influence our politics, and cast doubt on the integrity of our elections. These attacks block progress on the big issues that affect all of us, from climate change to gun violence to affordable healthcare, and erode the very trust and faith in government that motivates people in our country to participate in civic engagement.

None of us should have to keep fighting these fights. We know that policy can remedy inequities and create a world that is more supportive of women, and we believe in our collective power to achieve real change, despite the numerous obstacles focused on maintaining the status quo. The 2022 midterm elections have only reinforced what’s possible when women come together across race, age and geography to use the power of their vote to turn the tides on the issues the majority of us care about. 

When our government truly represents women, we won’t have to defend our right to exist in the halls of power, or our right to vote for the policy we need and deserve. We will be able to fully participate in our democracy and ensure that we have an equal say in creating a world that works for us, our families and our communities.

From healthcare to family care to equal pay to civil rights to climate policy, women are leading the way through activism and direct action. And yet we are sidelined again and again when it comes to elected representation.

Alicia Garza

Explore The Majority Rules series, a collaboration between Ms. and Supermajority:

  1. Our lives are safe. (feat. Mariska Hargitay and Alicia Garza)
  2. Our bodies are respected. (feat. Cecile Richards)
  3. Our work is valued. (feat. Reshma Saujani and Ai-jen Poo)
  4. Our families are supported. (feat. Stephanie Beatriz and Amanda Brown Lierman)
  5. Our government represents us. (feat. Alicia Garza and Katherine Grainger)


Katherine Grainger is a co-founder of Supermajority Education Fund and managing partner at Civitas Public Affairs Group. Previously, Grainger served in senior leadership in the New York government, as vice president for public policy and political initiatives at NARAL Pro-Choice NY, and as the director of state policy at the National Center for Reproductive Rights.