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With training sessions, group looks to boost women's representation in politics

Karla Rose Hanson speaks during a meeting Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, at North Dakota State University of the N.D. chapter of Ready to Run, a group that encourages women to participate in public service. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO — Women hold fewer than 20 percent of North Dakota's legislative seats, 12 percent of county commission seats, and only three women serve in elected statewide executive office.

Nationally, the state ranks 41st in the percentage of women serving in the Legislature.

This data was presented to a group of 30 women Friday, Oct. 13, attending one of two training sessions at North Dakota State University.

Whether helping to run a campaign, advocating for a certain issue or running for office, Ready to Run trainings organized by the North Dakota Women's Network aim to increase women's political representation.

"Women can make a real impact on every level," said Rep. Karla Rose Hanson, D-Fargo. "It's important for elected officials to be representative of the citizens. The agenda and outcome are better."

But Hanson and Rep. Shannon Roers Jones, R-Fargo, both said there are "perceived barriers" women tend to face when considering their participation in politics.

For one, women need to be asked to run — sometimes multiple times — before deciding to do so. That was the case for Jones when she decided to run two years ago. But even with validation from others, there is self-doubt, they said, of feeling as if they don't know enough about being an elected official to take the next step on their political path.

Jones said the trainings are meant to provide "education so women can see running for office is not out of reach." From learning about balancing politics with family, work and personal life, to raising money for campaigns and speaking in front of a crowd or camera, many tools are offered to instill confidence.

In speaking to the crowd of ready-to-run women Friday night, Hanson quoted a poem titled "legacy" by New York Times bestselling poet Rupi Kaur:

"I stand on the sacrifices of a million women before me thinking what can I do to make this mountain taller so the women after me can see further."

More Ready to Run workshops will be held Nov. 6, 13 and 20 at the Bismarck Public Library. To learn more, visit

Kim Hyatt

Kim Hyatt is a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and a 2014 graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth. She started her newspaper career at the Owatonna People’s Press covering arts and education. In 2016, she received Minnesota Newspaper Association's Dave Pyle New Journalist Award and later that year she joined The Forum newsroom.

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