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VENTURA COUNTY PERSPECTIVE

From Prohibited to Vote to Critical to the Process--in 80 Years

October 22, 2000|ROMA ARMBRUST | Roma Armbrust of Ventura is membership outreach chair of the National Women's Political Caucus

Slowly, ever so slowly, the number of women seeking and being elected to public office is climbing. Women, who until 80 years ago were prohibited from voting, are becoming increasingly politically savvy, as evidenced by female political consultants, speech writers, media specialists and candidates.

But percentage-wise, far fewer American women hold elective office than their counterparts in other countries.

When the feminist movement surfaced in the 1960s, a major topic of discussion was empowerment. Men were considered empowered because of their ability to shape the laws at all levels of government, while women had no voice.

An organization was needed to foster, train, endorse and fund female candidates who met certain criteria. So was born the National Women's Political Caucus.

In Ventura County, the caucus became reality in 1990-'91, first in the east county thanks to the efforts of women such as Trudi Loh, Marcy Curren and Julie Osborn. In the west county, a small group of political activists including Roz McGrath, Jan Nottingham, Nancy Cloutier and the late Cathy Bean met on a summer afternoon to form a caucus of their own. Later, the east and west county groups merged to form the NWPC-Ventura County.

The organization, structured as a grass-roots nonpartisan entity with local, state and national offices, has as its mission: Increase women's participation in the political process and strive to win equality for all women, to ensure reproductive freedom, achieve quality dependent care, eradicate violence and poverty and to eliminate discrimination.

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Political training is offered at the state and local levels to any interested women, candidate or not. A well-written campaign training manual is available at a nominal cost. The caucus is dedicated to assisting any woman who has considered running for office but has no support system to which to turn.

The women's vote will be crucial in the 2000 election, and that is exciting news. The real excitement will occur when our elected officials mirror our population, when women have an equal voice on substantive issues facing the nation, including those that the National Women's Political Caucus supports.

For more information, visit www.nwpcca.org and click on "new" or call 639-3886.

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