According to American University, 35% of women are encouraged to run for office from more than three sources, compared to the 49% of their male counterparts.
Why? Why do you think there are nonprofits and community groups dedicated to motivating, educating, and financially supporting women who should run for office? I’ll share more when I write again in a few weeks, but in the meantime read here.
In part, I believe within corporations to nonprofits people are looking for some sense of purpose. A direction that gives their work life a little utzpa. In the case of Emma Collum, her sense of purpose came in the form of law school, NY, and a move to Florida.
I interviewed her after thinking about the people I admire. Emma is the balzy, straight shooting, founder of Women’s March Florida. If you’ve ever run or been a part of a political campaign, you know it takes all your prayers, money, love, and dedication. I, like so many of you, grow tired of politics until someone who comes along that will simply use her elected office to do the work she has been doing for her entire career. May we all focus our hearts and minds on the bigger goals, keep our wits about us when the going gets impossible and maybe run for office, because someone reading this article has been toying with it.
Here is why Emma is running:
- Hi Emma. Thanks for talking with us today. Could you take a moment and introduce yourself for our readers?
- I am a first time candidate for office. My life has been in public service. I put myself through college and law school. I went to City University of Law in New York. I started working at domestic violence court in Yonkers and White Plains, NY. I started working with unions, was an attorney for DC 37 and worked for City of NY on behalf of those being illegally evicted from their homes. Later on in my career, I was asked by the first openly gay assemblywoman when the first anti fracking laws in N were taking place. I believe in the power of grassroots activism and built my career around this ideal. My husband is a native Floridian, 2 generations of Floridians, in fact so we moved to Florida where I was a local business attorney and worked with colleges in South Florida to write grants for STEM jobs across the state. I want to show people we are a beautiful place to live with jobs for an ever evolving economy. I am running for office to support these efforts. I was asked to run the Women’s March in Florida, mobilized 27k women from Florida to DC in January 2017. In addition, I was asked to organize all 50 states and helped mobilize the largest bus ride to Washington, D.C. Following, I established Women’s March in Florida as a 401c3 and 401c4 in Florida.
- You have a strong history of wanting to do good, especially for our community. What is it in particular that drove you towards your campaign for state house?
- As a woman, as a child of single mom and with friends and family in the LGBTQ communities, as well as communities of color, I have seen what it is to be in a birdcage of oppression. Ignoring oppression in these communities is in large part the reason I am running for office. If I can break even one of those barriers than I think that is a life worth living.
- You are a founder of the Women’s March in Florida – what do you see as a main issue that needs to be addressed as far as women’s rights today?
- The fundamental issue is the wage disparities. We still do not have a federal bill that addresses wage inequities. Women are still paying exorbitant fees for medical care right here in Florida. You are leaving some women in a position of being one paycheck away from being in economic hardship. We are literally defunding women in our state. We are literally counting them out. We need to be providing jobs with dignity. Helen Gordon Pay Act is something important and I have worked with elected officials to get that out of committee. A bill that I will work to pass if elected to this seat.
- Many people today are saying that the women’s rights movement is working to push men down. What do you have to say to that?
- I can’t imagine any human rights, any community rights work trying to uplift a community and bring any other community down. When one of us rise, we all rise. We desperately need our male allies to be in this fight with us. It would make our life better if we are in this together.
- For the Women’s March, as well as other local initiatives for positive change, what do you think is the biggest obstacle we face in regards to getting the word out – and ensuring the message isn’t lost through nay-sayers?
- Funding! Women’s March is a completely volunteer effort. It is about funding and about time. It is about making sure when leading this movement that we are listening (ie me as an heteronormative white woman). “We” have been and continue to pass the mic to women in other communities to listen to the experts about how their communities can be made better because of equitable laws across the state of Florida.
- You are an advocate for small business growth and STEM hiring – what do you think we need to do as a State to drive more attention to STEM education?
- I have been speaking to a lot of people. What is interesting about FL is we have businesses working in STEM and we do not realize we have the talent to fill them. We do not want to import workers from other states so we need to develop a funnel to move the best talent to fill these opportunities. We have RND Tax Credit allowing Florida based companies to have tax incentives to hire local businesses. We need to expand that tax grant to veterans, women and minority workers. It allows companies to get great workers into trainings like SIX Sigma, but not go bankrupt when offering it as these trainings can be cost prohibitive. We need to grow vocational schools and connect development projects we see popping up around the state and train people to continue to develop workers to adapt to a growing community.
- You have proven instrumental in ensuring organization to events such as the Women’s March – and even getting tens of thousands of women to DC. What advice do you have for organizations, or even businesses, looking to organize programming? Especially in regards to getting people to take note, get active and also show up?
- I think prioritizing who you are trying to serve, what purpose you are trying to serve and figuring out the best ways to do so. Miami Workers Center does a great job at this. March for Black Women and March for Black Women Assembly also does an incredible job at connecting with communities. Social media is great, but not for everyone. Partnering with organizations who have strong grassroots efforts as a part of their outreach strategy is so important.
- How can local businesses and leaders support and be involved with Women’s March Florida?
- We have been honored when doing our power to the polls to see a good turnout. We did it in 4 quadrants. 40k in total showed up during the aftermath of Irma, for example. The money raised went to supporting the community directly. We do not just need your money however. We need your time. For example, a law firm in Miami like Schuster and Schuster spoke to a community in Miami about the #metoo movement and with this partnership was able to let women know what is out there for them.
If you are interested in supporting Emma’s campaign, please visit https://www.emmacollum.com/.
Please share your thoughts and ideas on what you read today. We welcome your feedback.