April 4, 2012

In his March 29 letter [“The outlook for women candidates”] responding to “‘Year of the Woman’ fading,” Robert Tenney claimed that female politicians “have little to agree upon beyond gender.” He posited that this left only two possible justifications for wanting to elect more women to office: a biased belief that women are inherently better than men at governing, or an agenda favoring women.

Allow me to offer a third option. Ensuring that women are represented in Congress in the same proportion as in the general population might mean never again having to hear that efforts to restrict birth control access aren’t really about women and contraception. Once a critical mass is achieved, female legislators are more likely than men to support constructive policies benefiting women, children and families.

Mr. Tenney may be content with letting government composition stagnate, but I am not. The fact remains, men do not have the same life experiences as women. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) demonstrated this recently when she spoke on the House floor about being raped. Who better than representatives such as Ms. Moore to advocate for legislation addressing the ongoing disadvantages and abuses women face every day?

Terry O’Neill, Washington

The writer is president of the National Organization for Women.