Why does Emerge train only women?
We train only women because women are vastly under-represented among elected officials in this country. While women make up 51% of the population, we make up fewer than 25% of all elected officials in the United States. If women are not at the table, then our public policies, budgets, and laws won’t reflect women’s priorities and experiences.
If women are not in elected office, we’re omitting a huge pool of talent that our democracy desperately needs to tap if it is to remain functional, relevant, and vibrant. Finally, women face specific challenges and barriers when running for public office that men don’t face. Our training addresses these head on.
Please see the “Why Women?” section under “About Us” for more information on this important question.
Does Emerge train transgender women and gender non-conforming individuals?
In order to be eligible for Emerge training, participants must self-identify as women. Transgender women who were assigned male at birth but identify as women are eligible to apply. Emerge does not accept applications from men, including transgender men. Our focus on training women means that we only consider applicants who specifically identify as women and who seek entrance into a program dedicated to training women. Our practice has been guided by policies and procedures used by historically women’s colleges. For a good example, see the admission policy announcement by Smith College here.
Why does Emerge train only Democrats?
Emerge Vermont is part of Emerge America and a nationwide network of state affiliates. Originally founded by Democratic women in California who were frustrated by the overall male political establishment, the dual goal of promoting women and Democratic values and priorities has always been at the center of the Emerge mission.
As Emerge has expanded to over half the states and counting, this dual goal has become part of a national strategy for both increasing the number of women and Democrats in elected office. Emerge believes that by diversifying the pool of qualified candidates running for office, Democratic women will be at the center of revitalizing our Party and democracy in all geographic regions and levels of government.
Emerge America recognizes that each state’s political landscape is unique, and that what may work in California may not work in Vermont or Tennessee. However, in order to remain true to the roots and mission of the organization, all Emerge affiliates train only Democratic women.
Here in Vermont, where voters don’t register for specific political parties, we adhere to the mission of Emerge and the practice of the Vermont Democratic Party, and will train women who self-identify as Democrats and Democrat-Progressives. Applicants to our Signature Training Program attest to their Democratic affiliation on their application, and we strongly encourage alumnae to run for office and caucus with the Democratic Party, when relevant.
Registration for our one-day workshops is open to a broader spectrum of women who may or may not have specific party identify. Our workshops are meant to be a “taste of Emerge” training, and our hope is that through the experience, participants will gain a positive perspective on the work of Democratic women which may have a beneficial influence on their future identity as Democrats.
Through our trainings, outreach, and operations, we always seek to promote a collaborative approach to our work and a critical engagement with political parties across the spectrum. Emerge Vermont works closely with women’s and other grassroots organizations throughout Vermont to promote women’s equality and leadership, and productive political engagement, regardless of political identity. We understand that the Democratic Party is a “big tent” and that not all Democrats agree on all issues, and therefore not all Emerge women agree on all issues.
Our democracy needs more women in office from all parties. We believe that Democrats, Progressives, Republicans, and Independents should all be working to increase the number of women elected to office. Emerge Vermont welcomes and supports any party’s efforts to attain gender parity and equality. With limited resources and a focused national mission, our priority must be on recruiting and training diverse Democratic women.
How can men help?
Men are important partners and supporters of Emerge Vermont, and the women we train to run for office. Men are often the life partners, chief funders or advisors, and super-volunteers or staffers for women running for office. We cannot win elections without men on our team as supporters and voters. In fact, men are so valuable to Emerge Vermont that we created Men for Emerge to underscore their importance to our efforts.
However, men can also create barriers for women seeking elected office. Men in politics often tell women to wait their turn, take a smaller role, run for a lower office, or not seek leadership positions. Men sometimes dismiss women or simply ignore us, as they climb the ladder or block the pipeline seeking to increase and protect their own political power.
So, while Emerge values the men involved with our work on all levels, we also challenge men to examine their own role in perpetuating a political culture that is not welcoming or inclusive of new and diverse voices. We urge men to understand that true power is shared power, and that gender equality benefits not only women, but our communities, families, and democracy.
Who funds Emerge Vermont?
Vermonters fund Emerge Vermont. Our budget is extremely modest, approximately $80,000 for 2018. About 80% of our funding comes through contributions from individuals, with most less than $100 each. We cultivate a few dedicated major donors, and a handful of small business supporters. The other 20% of our budget comes through program fees, tuition, and sponsorships. We do not receive funding from the Democratic Party or Emerge America.