INDIANAPOLIS –  Government will be healthier and more effective when it better reflects our population. Today we have a paltry number of women serving in Indiana government, but the issues facing them in their daily lives cut deeply.

I have noted many times that far too many Indiana families today struggle for economic stability, yet as our families have been working so hard over the past 30 years for less: Indiana has become more obese and less healthy; Indiana has become a net exporter of degreed talent; Indiana’s educational achievements relative to other states (like SAT performance) has declined; Indiana has more people incarcerated than ever before; Indiana has more people addicted to drugs than ever before; more of Indiana’s women and children are victims of sexual and domestic violence; women have increasingly less access to ob/gyn doctors and medical care, yet more and more people suffer from STDs and suffer through pregnancies without adequate medical care; women make only 74 cents to every dollar earned by a man for the same job.
 
Women just get it. The rush to daycare, the struggle to be respected on the job, the fight for opportunity. These are just some of the reasons why the founders of “Hoosier Women Forward” (HWF) decided to get more active this year.  Protesting and pink hats make a statement, but they only move the cause forward so far. Women in Indiana are primed and ready to set up our game.  
 
With a team of strong women, Liane Groth Hulka, new 5th Congressional Democrat chair and HWF founding chair, began the hard work of organizing and launching a new nonprofit aimed at preparing and propelling Democratic women into leadership roles across the state, now and in the future. 
 
“We want to harness the energy and talent that’s out there, all across Indiana, and create a powerful, diverse network of engaged Democratic women,” Hulka said.  “Our mission is to increase the number and influence of Democratic women in elected and appointed governmental positions at the local, state and federal levels, and in positions of influence in their communities and the private sector.” 
 
“Too often, women feel like their voices aren’t valued, whether it’s in the workplace or when the male-dominated Indiana General Assembly is deliberating women’s issues,” she added. “You can look no further than the #metoo movement to see how powerful our voices can be for change. We want to take that energy and those voices and equip women with the tools they need to excel in leadership positions.” 
 
HWF will select a group of 20 to 25 outstanding Democratic women each year through a competitive application process to participate in a nine-month leadership training program.
 
Although women represent more than 50% of the voting public in Indiana, only two of the state’s 11-member congressional delegation are women, and neither is a  Democrat. Women make up just 20% of the 150 seats in the Indiana General Assembly.  
 
Women selected for the HWF training program must demonstrate an interest in public policy, political advocacy and advancing Indiana forward with progressive policies and ideas. The nonprofit will strive to ensure that each class has a diverse background of personal and professional life experiences reflecting the economic, geographical, ethnic and cultural diversity in Indiana.
 
In August the inaugural class of Democratic women leaders will be named. Get ready, Indiana. The pink wave of women leaders is coming, and it will be a very, very good thing. 

Hale is the 2016 Democratic lieutenant governor nominee and a former state representative.