As Women’s History Month comes to an end, we wanted to discuss an important topic: the involvement of women in politics.
This coming August, it will be 97 years after women got the right to vote, but still we don’t see women have equal representation in government. In 2000, Barbara Boxer predicted the ranks of female senators would rise to 50 in 10 or 20 years. Unfortunately, today the Senate includes only 21 women.
Let’s take a look at Congress. Today there’s 104 representatives. Sure, a number over a hundred sounds like a lot. But when you consider that there are 535 voting members total, that’s when we sadly realize that nearly a century after suffrage, women are not yet one-fifth of the body that it’s supposed to represent their views and interests.
Why does it matter if women have a voice in politics? Basically because women’s specific rights and interests are not protected otherwise. Women’s participation in politics is socially transformative. Research shows that women in politics raise issues that others overlook, pass bills that others oppose, invest in projects others dismiss and seek to end abuses that others ignore.
In addition, women’s political participation and leadership are necessary for democracy to function most effectively. According to Arend Lijphart, Research Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of California, the more closely government represents the composition of society as a whole, the more stable its policies are likely to be. This means that it is not just important to include women, but also to ensure broad representation.
A call out for women: Let’s go ahead and change turn these numbers around. It doesn’t mater who you are, where you live or where you’ve been. You have the opportunity right now to be heard and make a difference. The world of political campaigning can seem a little unruly for someone who hasn’t done it before. But like anything, the more you know, the better the decisions you can make.
Let’s encourage the next generations! Every time another woman runs for office, she shows the women and girls around her that it’s possible to shatter ceilings and achieve cultural change. If we want girls to believe they can become anything they want, including President or Vice President of the United States, then we need to work much more diligently to help them envision those dreams.