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Abigail Adams may have been the first woman to engage in democracy reform in the United States.

Women’s representation is the heart of the democracy reform movement

Terrell is the founder and executive director of RepresentWomen, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for policy changes that would result in more women holding elected office.

This is the first in a series of opinion pieces we are publishing during Women's History Month to recognize the contributions of women to the democracy reform movement.

Abigail Adams wrote to her husband at the Continental Congress in 1776, warning John: "If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation." That famous quote is a timely reminder that women have long been at the forefront of democracy reform to demand that our voices be heard.

As our country celebrates a century of the 19th Amendment and the "universal" suffrage that came with its ratification, we also must reflect on the slow and minimal progress we've made in the past century.

Despite historic numbers of women in both houses of Congress, the United States ranks 82nd in the world for women's representation in national legislatures. And unfortunately, progress for women — especially women of color and conservative women — will continue to be slow because we have antiquated electoral norms that favor the status quo. The Founding Fathers didn't create a system or a country to benefit or include women; they built one to support and represent the powerholders at the table: white men.

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