Gender, Women, and Democracy
by Ruth Ann Harnisch, The Harnisch Foundation
How to engage the next generation of political activists? My Uncle Sib recruited me to be a neighborhood foot soldier for his favored candidates as soon as I entered kindergarten. You wanted campaign flyers, buttons, bumper stickers? I was your connection. On Election Day, I was the ‘irresistible tot’ handing out sample ballots at polling sites and politely asking voters to vote for Uncle Sib’s man. I noticed there were never any women’s names on those sample ballots.
By the time I got to high school, I’d stuffed envelopes and worked the phones for a number of local and statewide campaigns. I even ran for class office as a college freshman, where girls could only compete for the offices of vice president and secretary. The gender roles were so deeply ingrained in the culture that it didn’t even seem unfair – it’s just the way it was.
It’s hard to believe that almost a half-century later, a male-dominated government is still just the way it is. Women are still striving for offices that no woman has held before. Why don’t the representatives of the people more accurately reflect the population they serve? How can we help more women win public office?
Obviously, in order for more women to win, more women need to run. That’s why theHF supports efforts to help women set out on the challenging path of public leadership. Our grantee VoteRunLead has trained thousands of women with political aspirations. I participated in some of their sessions, and I was impressed by the practical, step-by-step support for somebody starting the business (and it is a business) of running for public office. I believe VoteRunLead can transform our country by supporting women who want to step up their leadership capabilities, whether in pursuit of public office or another arena where they want to invest their talents and passion.
If you take the VoteRunLead training, you’ll discover that the skills and connections you need for powering a successful political campaign are strikingly similar to the ones you need to succeed in any area of life. You can learn how to:
- Identify clearly who you are, what you stand for, and what you will not stand for.
- Tell others who you are, what you stand for, and what you will not stand for.
- Articulate the biggest vision possible and break it down into bite-size doable chunks.
- Develop an authentic network of people who are invested in your success.
- Fundraise and oversee the spending of money.
- Build a team to make your vision become a reality.
A woman’s place is in the House and the Senate. This has never been more appropriate or more achievable than now.
Today, why not take one simple step and check out VoteRunLead’s next training. We’re sponsoring this because we really want to make it easy for you to say yes. Please consider this your personal invitation – and challenge! – to expand your own leadership. We have never needed you more.
Learn more about The Harnisch Foundation and all of the projects it supports, including VoteRunLead’s training programs.