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Former NOW President Kicks Off ‘Feminization Of Power’ Campaign

October 15, 1987

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A coalition of feminists, concerned about how few women seek elected office, launched a national campaign Wednesday to encourage more women to enter the male-dominated political arena.

The Feminization of Power campaign will attempt to double the number of women occupying seats in state legislatures and Congress through a multi-state tour to recruit potential female candidates.

Spearheaded by Eleanor Smeal, the former president of the National Organization for Women, the campaign is sponsored by a new group called the Fund for the Feminist Majority.

NOW president Molly Yard is supporting her predecessor in the campaign and tour, which has been scheduled to coincide with candidate filing deadlines from December through midsummer 1988.

″There’s still a lot of extreme sexism in American politics,″ Ms. Smeal said before the campaign’s evening kick-off.

″For example, if a bunch of men and one woman are running for city council and another woman wants to run, people will say: ‘Hey, don’t run. You’ll just take votes away from the other woman.’

″But why? Maybe six men are running and no one says they’ll take votes from each other because they’re men,″ Ms. Smeal told The Associated Press.

In the November 1986 elections, feminists said women made strides. Twenty- five women won statewide offices from governor to treasurer, up from seven in 1984. In Congress, there are two women in the Senate and 23 in the House. The number in the House is a record.

The campaign, she said, will focus on recruiting women candidates of all ages and backgrounds.

″Whats unique is that usually you wait until they declare their candidacy and then help them,″ she said. ″But we can’t wait to improve the quantity and quality of people running.″

Seed money for the tour has come from individual contributions, Ms. Smeal said, with further fund-raising to be conducted as the campaign moves across the country.

Celebrities supporting the Feminization of Power campaign include actors Patty Duke, Ed Asner and Susan Clark of the television show ″Webster.″

Ms. Smeal also said the campaign is not out to promote only women’s issues.

″We’re dealing with issues directly affecting the quality of life, things benefitting women and men,″ she said.

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