As I was keeping up with the 2016 presidential election, I felt a mix of emotions. I recall feeling excitement, frustration and everything in between. I was ecstatic that, for the first time in the United States’ history, a woman accepted a major party’s nomination for president and could potentially be our first female president.
It was a major slap in face was when Hillary Clinton lost. A wave of frustration and sadness came over me. As a woman with political ambitions, I started to question my own qualifications and whether I could ever make it in politics. I reconsidered my major in political science and was discouraged from one day pursuing elected office. If someone with Clinton’s experience and knowledge could not overcome the glass ceiling, how could I, a low-income woman of color, ever do it?
When I joined IGNITE at UCLA, my perspective changed. I met several young women with political ambitions as well as female elected officials who were able to break the glass ceiling. These women leaders inspired me and helped me build up my confidence once again. I learned that even though women face several obstacles when running for office, there are always people willing to support you along the way and provide you with the resources you need. I realized that though the process may seem daunting and scary, not only is it possible, but also necessary, that I run for office.
The reality is that we need more women in elected positions and the only way that is going to happen is if more women run for office. Now, instead of being discouraged by the lack of representation of women and the barriers they face, I use my frustration with the current state of things as a motivation. I cannot sit around and wait for change to happen. I have to initiate it and start at the local level. This is why I want to run for local office in the near future. I want to lead by example and demonstrate to other women that I am capable of breaking down structural barriers and that they can too. Moreover, I am committed to motivating women to get involved in leadership positions no matter their aspiration and help them realize their potential. We NEED more female decision-makers!
Why Representation Matters
It is an exhilarating yet frustrating time to be a woman who intends to run for public office in the near future and strives for gender parity; however, now more than ever, it is important that women declare their ambition to run for office. Despite making up over half of the population, we are significantly underrepresented on the national, state, and local level. Women only make up 19% of Congress, 24% of state legislators, 12% of governors, and 18% of mayors. If we continue at this rate the U.S will not reach gender parity until the year 2121, meaning that we will never see this in our lifetime!
Underrepresentation is not just a problem of equity: it is an issue with serious policy implications that impact women directly. Female elected officials make a difference in the issues they prioritize and are more likely to advocate for gender-salient issues such as women’s health, reproductive rights, and child care. Thus, increasing the number of women in elected positions is the best way to push specific rights and interests that would otherwise not be protected.
Declare Your Ambition
The reality is that we need more women in elected positions and the only way that is going to happen is if more women run for office. If you want more female representation, the change starts with you! Take action, declare your ambition to run for office. If you do not intend to run you can still make a difference by encouraging other women to do so. Uplift women and support them through the process.
Declare Your Ambition Here: http://www.ignitenational.org/declare_your_ambition
“If you're not at the table you are on the menu” ~Michael Enzi