This past year, a lot of things have changed in politics. Rather than dwell on things I can’t change or things I disagree with, I want to focus on one area that I think has potential. Earlier this year there were huge protests in America made of WOMEN. Millions turned out to march in Washington, D.C. and other major cities across the country. They were organized, motivated, and engaged. Regardless of whether you believe in what they were marching for, wasn’t it impressive? It was democracy in action, and it was women getting engaged in politics – two of my favorite things to witness.
For less than 100 years, our nation has allowed women to vote. During this time, women have gone to the polls to participate and make decisions about policies that affect our lives, our schools, our families, our communities, and our country. The Center for American Women and Politics tells us that in all presidential elections since 1980, the rates of voter turnout for women have exceeded that of men – by four to seven million votes each election! Yet, as we all know, women around the world are still largely absent from local, state, and national decision-making bodies. Worldwide, the UN reports that women make up just under 23 percent of all legislators and there are 10 women worldwide serving as Head of State and nine who serve as Head of Government.
How can this change? Well, how does anything in politics change? It takes people who are willing to fight for what they believe in. It takes hope. It takes determination. It takes brave individuals who are willing to fail, in order to succeed.
At ALA Girls Nation, we might not actually be senators or presidential and vice presidential candidates...at least not yet. We are a group of women who are hopeful for our future. A group who sees 100 girls in front of us who are strong leaders. We see young ladies who are determined to make a difference in the world. Our staff has done our best to give them leadership training, support their efforts to participate in politics, aid them as they advocated for what they believe in, and remind them that we are in this together. We may have future politicians in our presence this week – perhaps even a future President of the United States – we don’t know, yet. But, we are sure that we have 100 change-makers who are going to have an impact in their communities.
I wish each of you ALA Girls Nation senators the best as you journey home and change the world. It was an honor serving as your Senate parliamentarian.
Thanks for a great week!
Indiana / Missouri