New group to boost women involvement in politics

One candidate speaks to a crowded room during the group's kickoff event. (Photo: Steffi Lee)

Two Des Moines women say they want to empower females to get politically engaged.

"Women are underrepresented when it comes to any political position," Jennifer Speers, a Des Moines resident, said.

That's why Speers and her friend, Kelly Davydov, founded Iowa Women for Progressive Change. This comes after Speers and Davydov were involved in another organization for around two years with a similar mission.

"We want to take action in helping support and educate women on how to get involved in politics, how to run for office and then when they are taking that leap of running for any position of office, that they have a group there to support them and help get the word about it," Speers said.

The Democratic leaning group is in its early stages. Its outreach started through social media and the group held its first event bringing together four candidates running for seats in the Iowa House:

  • Andrea Phillips - Iowa House District 37
  • Maridith Morris - Iowa House District 42
  • Heather Matson - Iowa House District 38
  • Claire Celsi - Iowa House District 42

Celsi, who was motivated to run for office because of education, said a group like this could be beneficial for the community.

"It is definitely a hard thing to do, running for office," she said. "Not only for women, but for anyone who wants to run."

Speers said they're still organizing and forming the group and deciding what it's going to become. She said it also won't be gender exclusive, even though it primarily focuses on women.

"It's scary to put yourself out there," she said. "Especially when you're saying I'm supporting women because people automatically show up and say why aren't you supporting men? And the truth is, we do support men also."

Speers said she hopes this will eventually expand statewide.

"You can put yourself out there and have good things come from it," she said.

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