3 Reasons Young Women Should Run for Office

April 11, 2014
Women get ready to run at an Elect Her training at Virginia Tech in 2013.

Women get ready to run at an Elect Her training at Virginia Tech in 2013.

It’s no secret that women are sorely underrepresented in political leadership, from Capitol Hill to local elected offices. Part of the solution begins with you: Just ask women who have real-life experience. At a recent event I attended, former congresswomen encouraged young women to run for public office and eradicate the leadership gap. Here are three takeaways for young women today.

1. Your perspective is valuable — and needed.

Women in office are more likely to bring up women’s issues because they’ve lived them. From standing up against sexual harassment to advocating for fair pay policies, women in Congress are critical to moving these issues forward.

“It was women who were able to advance great pieces of legislation like the Violence Against Women Act,” former Rep. Constance Morella (R-MD) said. Former Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), who became a senator when her twin sons were two years old, agreed. “My perspective as a young mother in the U.S. Senate was critical. … More young women are needed in our legislatures.”

2. You’re not alone.

Women running for office have access to support and resources at all levels, including training programs to help them prepare. Check out the national and state-by-state resources curated by the Center for American Women and Politics.

Like many of her colleagues, former Rep. Barbara Kennelly (D-CT) started her career on campus. College women should follow in Kennelly’s footsteps, and programs like Elect Her–Campus Women Win can help.

3. Women in Congress believe in you.

Women in Congress believe in you. Events like the one I attended show that women who have served in office know that others can and should follow their lead. “It is a great time for young women to run for Congress,” Lincoln said. Another former congresswoman, Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA), encouraged young women to get started by becoming involved in their local communities and making themselves known.

Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-IL) said it best: “The only way we can close this leadership gender gap is with courage.” Hearing these women speak inspired me to run for office in the future. I hope you do the same.

This blog was written by AAUW Campus Leadership Programs Intern Jessica Bonilla.


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