At 35 percent, Illinois ranks sixth in the nation when it comes to the percentage of state legislators who are women. But, as the national spotlight turned to the #metoo movement, Illinois was no exception when it came to allegations of sexual harassment in the statehouse.
WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with leaders of Illinois' Anti-Harassment, Equality, and Access Panel - State Comptroller Susana Mendoza, State Representative Carol Ammons, and State Senator Melinda Bush.
The #MeToo Movement has brought stories of sexual harassment to light in virtually every sector of American life. Revelations last year from the entertainment industry of pervasive and persistent sexual harassment set off a cascade of similar tales in industries from restaurant and hotel workers to corporate camps — and, of course, politics.
Throughout July, three prominent Illinois politicians working together as the Anti-Harassment, Equality and Access Panel (AHEA) has been holding meetings across the state in order to engage women in conversation about their experiences of sexual harassment, inequality and barriers to access in the political arena, whether as candidates, campaign staffers or officeholders.
At 35 percent, Illinois ranks sixth in the nation when it comes to the percentage of state legislators who are women. (Arizona is in the top spot, with 40 percent.) That’s according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics.
Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza and Representative Carol Ammons joined the Ben Joravsky Show to discuss the work of the Anti- Harassment, Equality and Access Panel.
(WNIJ News) -- A panel is traveling across Illinois to hear about what it’s like to be a female in politics. The Anti-Harassment, Equality and Access Panel is hosting listening sessions to hear about sexual harassment in the political workplace.
The non-partisan panel is led by Comptroller Susana Mendoza, State Sen. Melinda Bush, and State Rep. Carol Ammons.
Becky Carroll is Communications Director for the group. She says their findings on workplace sexual harassment can apply to all political races, not just in Illinois.
“I think human behavior is human behavior so we’re going to see this in different forms and different levels across the country,” said Carroll.
This organization is one of many focusing on female candidates.
The Anti-Harassment, Equality and Access Panel plans to create a report of their findings by Aug. 16, before the November election day.
Upcoming panels will be held this month in Metro East, Springfield and Carbondale. Women can submit their stories and suggestions online at if they can’t attend a session, or want to register to attend an event, at https://www.aheapanel.org/home/
ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- The statewide Anti-Harassment, Equality and Access panel visited the Forest City on Sunday to encourage women to be more involved in politics and to help advance the women already there.
The panel, made up of state representatives and senators, talked about ways to eliminate the pervasive culture of sexual harassment and how to put women on path to leadership.
"We're trying to shift the culture of politics. We make up 50 percent of the population and we should make up 50 percent of the elected offices. But, we shouldn’t be experiencing the levels of obstacles that we are trying to get there,” said Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana.
Panel also announces team to support its work, including Tina Tchen, Co-Founder of Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund and former Chief of Staff to Michelle Obama
CHICAGO, IL (June 26, 2018) – Today, the non-partisan Anti-Harassment, Equality, and Access Panel (AHEA) announced its plans to host six listening sessions throughout Illinois.
These sessions are designed for women who have worked on campaigns at all levels, in any party in Illinois, to provide guidance for the Panel’s final report on guidelines to improve workplace culture. For those women who can’t participate in these panels, a website has been created where feedback can be provided either by name or anonymously at www.aheapanel.org.
The Panel schedule is:
- Champaign: Sunday, July 1
- Chicago and Rockford: Sunday, July 8
- Metro East: Sunday, July 15
- Springfield: Monday, July 23
- Carbondale: Thursday, July 26
The Panel is led by Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza, State Senator Melinda Bush (Grayslake) and State Representative Carol Ammons (Urbana).
“We are thrilled to start engaging women across the state around this incredibly important work,” said Illinois State Comptroller, Susana Mendoza. “It’s a unique opportunity to help shape the future of Illinois politics and the kind of culture we want to build that ultimately gives everyone the opportunity to thrive and succeed.”
State Representative Carol Ammons says the Panel is being very intentional to ensure listening sessions include the voices of all women. “As part of our work, it’s critical that women of color, who have been traditionally disenfranchised, are heard,” she said. “It is crucial the Panel is considering the intersection of race and gender and how it impacts the overall landscape of politics in Illinois. Women of color are missing from the discussion, from the table, and from our elected offices.”
“It’s important that we visit every corner of the state and engage multiple partners in this work so that all voices are heard regardless of where they serve,” said State Senator Melinda Bush. “We want to engage women from all parties, across all levels of experience working on campaigns and within party organizations so we can build recommendations that can create the strongest and most supportive environments where women can succeed.”
The goals of the AHEA Panel are as follows:
- Promote and support a culture of equality, safety, and respect in Illinois politics and government free of sexual harassment.
- Improve the process for combating and reporting sexual harassment in Illinois political campaigns.
- Increase the number of women in leadership positions and those on track to leadership positions at all levels of Illinois politics and government by expanding access and tools for professional and leadership development.
- Facilitate more women running for office in Illinois by identifying and reducing structural obstacles that prevent them from doing so.
Supporting the work of the Panel is Tina Tchen, Partner, Buckley Sandler LLP; Becky Carroll, President, C-Strategies, and co-founder of Illinois Say No More; Katelynd Duncan, President of KJD Strategies and co-founder of Illinois Say No More; and Christie Lacey, Panel Coordinator.
The AHEA is a 501(c)(4) non-partisan organization. This Panel does not have investigatory authority or oversight around sexual harassment allegations. The Panel plans to complete its report by August 16.