Mission and History
The Women's Legislative Network of NCSL is the professional development organization that includes every female state legislator in the fifty states, United States territories, and the District of Columbia. The Network began when female legislators gathered at NCSL meetings in the late 1970s. It was formally organized in 1985 at the Annual Meeting in Seattle and later became a core program of the NCSL Foundation for State Legislatures.
The mission of the Women's Legislative Network is to promote the participation, empowerment, and leadership of women legislators.
The Network is governed by a 15-member board of directors that is politically and regionally balanced. The role of president alternates between a Democrat and a Republican each year. The board makes decisions about programming and events and encourages other women legislators to get involved with the Network and NCSL. An Advisory Council, composed of a Democrat and Republican from each state, serves as the liaison between the states and the Network. Advisory Council members work with the Network on activities and events within their states, provide information to the Network regarding organizations and activities involving women legislators, and assist with program and fundraising efforts as determined by the Executive Board.
The Network does not advocate for or against specific state policies, but sponsors informational briefings so legislators can better understand an issue and learn from one another. Recent topics addressed include: women’s health, including issues of chronic disease, healthy pregnancies and access to care; women and financial asset development; affordable housing; the Earned Income Tax Credit; and women in the criminal justice system. The focus of Network programming this year is on what legislators can do to support the financial stability of women in their districts.
The Network also sponsors skill-building workshops for women legislators. Themes include: mastering the media, communicating with constituents, negotiation and conflict resolution, and effective leadership.
The Network hosts an informal reception or luncheon at NCSL meetings to allow time for women legislators to interact and learn from each other.
For more information, contact: Katie Ziegler, NCSL Staff Liaison.