There was a time when the women in red couldn't get a seat at the table, and now on Wednesday, there — quite literally— weren't enough.
"Look at us today," said Del. Sheila Hixson, D-Silver Spring, to the crowded room during the Women's Caucus of Maryland meeting. "We've obviously done something right."
Like many around the country, the bi-partisan group acknowledged the A Day Without a Woman demonstration and International Women's Day, which both occurred Wednesday. They wore red pantsuits, red dresses, red flats and red scarves. They talked about the time when there weren't women bathrooms in the State House and how they would sometimes sneak a glass of wine in each others' offices on bad days.
Organized by the leaders of the Women's March on Washington, A Day Without a Woman aims to recognize the impact women have on the economy. People around the country supported the movement by either not working, avoiding shopping at stores that weren't owned by women or minorities, or wearing red in solidarity.
In Annapolis, about 20 women from all over the state — ranging from teenagers to mothers — celebrated by participating in Annapolis Shadow Day, where they learned the inner workings of a field that has yet to reach parity in its representation: Maryland politics.
Right now, women make up 11 of the 47 state senators and 49 of the 141 delegates in the Maryland General Assembly. With the retirement of former Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Rep. Donna Edwards unsuccessfully running for her seat this past year, there are now no women representing Maryland in Congress.
The goal of the day is to connect women with delegates and show them that they, too, can run for political office, said Mriga Rao, organizer and chair of Young Democrats of America Women's Caucus. The caucus hopes to keep in touch with the participants and help them with resources if they decide to run for a local election. Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby is a former participant of the program.
Rao said the fact that the event fell on the national demonstration was a coincidence, since its planning began in the fall. But the group leaned into the movement by encouraging women to wear red and stressed the importance of encouraging each other to run for office.
"Women need to be asked six or seven times before they run for congress," she said. "To increase the participation, we need to get them while they're young. They could be the next Barbara Mikulski."
Briana Harden, 16, of Fort George G. Meade, said she wanted to shadow a Maryland delegate since she's been in student government for years and has always been "vice president or president" of some organization. This was her first time visiting the State House, and she said it was interesting to watch the senators debate the merits of certain bills and delegate tasks to their staff.
Harden admitted that she was surprised to see men in the state house wearing red ties in honor of the day.
"It's nice to see that support," she said.
For Annapolis resident Eve Hurwitz, she's been thinking of running for elected office for about a decade. The Navy veteran, now reservist, said the results of the 2016 election acted as a catalyst for her to run as a state senator. She plans to run against state Sen. Edward Reilly, R-Anne Arundel, in the District 33 senate race.
Hurwitz said there was "no better way" to celebrate International Women's Day than to meet with local politicians about how women could be better represented in government. Her 5-month-old daughter was with her for part of the day, and when Hurwitz couldn't find a good location to breast feed, she said it led to a productive discussion with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.'s staff about the needs of mothers and maternity leave.
"For me, it's all about unity," she said. "Maybe this sounds like a hippie, but coming together will save us."
The day ended with a reception with state Sens. Douglas Peters, D-Prince George's County, and Nancy King, D-Montgomery County. The senators talked about issues that were important to them, like education and the paid sick leave bill, and encouraged the group of women to get involved in their school boards and community groups as soon as possible.
For those interested in running for office, Peters recommended the women reach out to their representatives. By women creating that relationship, he said, the representatives can help build their resumes and point them to career-building opportunities.
Hurwitz asked the two senators about how they handle the "mud slinging" that can occur in campaigns. The Annapolis resident said she was nervous it could happen to her and wasn't sure the best way to handle it.
King said she faced mud slinging in her last campaign and that the best way to push through it is to be tough.