March 2023 marks the 43rd annual celebration of Women’s History on a national level in the U.S. As the 2023 President of the National League of Cities (NLC) Women In Municipal Government (WIMG) Constituency Group, I am excited to bring attention to this important month and to challenge my fellow women elected officials to look to our next generation of leaders to serve as mentors to young women and encourage and equip them to consider a role as local elected leaders.
By the Numbers:
- There are over 19,000 incorporated cities, towns, and villages in the U.S. according to 2019 U.S. Census data: approximately 4,700 of these cities have populations over 5,000.
- As of May 2021, the Center for American Women and Politics reported that there are 1,621 Mayors in cities over 30,000, and 407 (25.1%) are women.
- Demographics for gender representation in city council seats show women at 46.7% in 2021, an 8% increase since 2010.
WIMG’s membership currently stands at 374. The data above points to a significant growth opportunity for WIMG in the coming years. We have set an aspirational membership growth goal of 500 in 2023. What better moment than Women’s History Month to highlight both the growth opportunity and the aspiration?
The WIMG Challenge:
“It is incumbent upon us to provide knowledge, insights, and encouragement to those who will follow us.”
The challenge to those of us in local elected leadership positions is to translate this national and international celebration into expanded leadership for women in local government. It includes constantly asking ourselves, “What steps can we take to increase the representation of women leaders in cities across the country” or “How can we inspire young women to pursue elected office?”
As Mayor Pro Tempore of the Town of Tryon, North Carolina, I feel a personal responsibility to mentor other young women, especially women of color, to step boldly into leadership positions in their communities. This is a challenging journey requiring courage and perseverance. Our next generation of women leaders needs to see examples of other women who have successfully navigated this journey. It is incumbent upon us to provide knowledge, insights, and encouragement to those who will follow us. Together with my WIMG sisters, I am committed to doing just that.
This year, WIMG is focusing on three priorities:
- Building a pipeline for strong young women in local leadership and beyond
- Creating a mentor system and database to pair current women in local elected roles with young women
- Growing the WIMG membership
To fulfill our stated purpose of promoting issues of interest to women, the status of women in our cities, and establishing liaisons with other national or state organizations concerned with municipal government or women’s issues, we need to work together with many allies, which can be found at the local, state, and national levels.
This year, WIMG will host its annual summer meeting in Charlotte, NC, from August 9 through August 12. Additional details about the summer meeting will be shared soon. The group also holds regular virtual meetings and gathers in person at NLC’s two annual conferences, Congressional City Conference in March and City Summit in November.
As WIMG continues to serve as a vehicle for NLC members to discuss problems and explore solutions, debate policy issues, and contribute to the success of American cities and towns, we can make our greatest impact by coming together. I invite you to join us as we work to achieve our 2023 goals and beyond!
WIMG is one of six active constituency groups at the National League of Cities. It serves as a forum for communication and networking among women local elected officials and their colleagues and works to raise awareness about issues of concern to women and encourages women to seek public office in their communities. There is no extra cost for elected officials of NLC member cities to join WIMG.
About the Author
Chrelle Booker is the Mayor Pro Tempore of Tyron, North Carolina and the President of NLC’s Women In Municipal Government Constituency Group.