Growing up, politics surrounded me; my late uncle constantly kept up with any election, politicians’ actions, and the changing laws in the U.S. and worldwide. A few years ago, my dad decided to join the local elections and run for trustee for the village of Bartlett, Illinois.
In my experience of witnessing these government events, I couldn’t help but notice how little representation there was for women. Still, the women you did see had many unique ideas that resonated with you. Women politicians bring different perspectives to the table and are the voices of many, and it’s essential that we encourage future generations to take a step into leadership roles.
There has been a positive increase in women representatives for government positions globally in recent years. Data shows that as of January 2021, there was an all-time high of women in higher positions. The world average of women in parliament for “single house or lower house is 25.6%, Upper house or Senate is 24.8%, and Both houses combined is 25.5%.”
Women such as Xiomara Castro, Janet Yellen, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kamala Harris, and many more have stepped up into these roles and are fighting for the rights of many.
The laws are changing, and many of our rights as women are being either challenged or taken away. An important example is the overturn of Roe vs. Wade, where many states in the United States took away the right to abortion. Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi made a statement criticizing the Supreme Court for making such a decision. With these backward changes occurring, there needs to be someone that can speak up for the majority, and many female leaders like Nancy are doing just that.
“If you look at the state level, state reps, and state heads, women are starting to be elected into office at a much faster rate, especially because of the last year being the ‘year of the women,’ where abortion rights were threatened and the supreme court decision,” said Julia Schwarze, the village clerk for Carol Stream, Illinois. “I think that in the last election in 2022, it was a lot of women who retained their seats or got elected into new seats because of the women’s issues that are so prevalent right now.”
There is a feeling of empowerment that comes when we see someone that is like us, being a leader. When other women and young girls see female leaders on TV standing up and talking about issues that directly connect to them, it shows them that they are capable of more than just what society expects of them. In 2019, U.S. representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC, became a tremendous role model for many young people.
The popular app TikTok’s users constantly talked about how AOC inspired and motivated them. Many of AOC’s interviews and statements have circulated throughout the app and have received both positive and negative comments. People want to see someone who isn’t afraid to be themselves and has the confidence to speak the truth about many people in this country and their struggles.
Even though there has been a positive change in how women are accepted in government roles, there is still a long way to go. Data shows that as of January 2023, 34 women serve as Head of State and Government in only 31 countries. According to the UN, it is said that gender equality in higher leadership roles won’t be attained for another 130 years.
Women are underrepresented in these positions because of the constant stereotyping, attacks of judgment, and sexism’s many faces.
Young girls find it harder and harder to believe they can step into the world of politics, and many feel there are too many obstacles to get where they want to be. These young girls see women such as Hilary Clinton and Kamla Harris achieve so much in a world that puts down women. Seeing them lose or have to answer to people about why they belong in those positions often strays them away from the idea of being a leader.
“One of the pieces of advice I would give is you have to learn to be thick-skinned because you do get doors slammed in your face at times,” Schwarze said.
said regarding going door to door during elections. “You learn that you can’t take that personally; you must just brush it off.”
It’s important to encourage young girls and other women to push their limits constantly and to teach them that there is always a time for them to join leadership roles.
Technology is a powerful tool; I have seen firsthand how my dad used social media such as Instagram and Twitter to spread his thoughts and ideas and what he was fighting for during the elections. I find courage and confidence when I see women leaders discussing their experiences.
Another way of empowerment comes from letting women know how their vote counts and how important it is that they keep up with everything happening in the world.