More women should put name on ballot

Imagine growing up in a nation where you have little representation in your government, issues important to you are frequently cast aside and often there are few people to look to as agents of change.

Would you ever guess that this profile fits the average female voter in America? Despite representing 51 percent of the population, the U.S. Congress is only 17 percent female, a concerning statistic to say the least.
The percentage of women in Pennsylvania’s state legislature renders our state 42nd in the nation. In addition, Pennsylvania is one of the only states to not only have a male governor, but also a state bureaucracy with no females currently elected to statewide office.

The United States as a whole ranks 71st in the world in terms of numbers of women holding political office. To put that sobering statistic into perspective, that puts the United States behind Afghanistan, Cuba and Turkmenistan, to name a few.

As a young woman living in one of the most privileged countries, these statistics are infuriating. But perhaps these disheartening trends can begin to change, thanks to a progressive initiative called The 2012 Project.

Capitalizing on the upcoming 2012 presidential election, the 2012 Project seeks to increase the number of female legislators on both the federal and state level. Using a bi-partisan approach, the goal is to recruit and equip women to consider public service as a viable option, one which is frequently not considered by women.

The 2012 Project also hosts “Ready to Run” seminars, effectively equipping women with the knowledge and confidence to pursue public service.

With important issues such as birth control and pro-life/pro-choice questions dominating political discourse, thanks to ignorant views held by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, it becomes all the more important to have equal representation in legislative politics.

Although I am a strong advocate of women in politics, being a college junior leaves me too young to yet consider a career in political office. However, I have been introduced to the 2012 Project by someone who has set a great example, not only for me, but for women everywhere of a successful woman in national politics.

Former U.S. Representative Kathy Dahlkemper has made the 2012 Project accessible to the Erie community by organizing a panel discussion to be hosted by Mercyhurst University and the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics on Wednesday, March 21, at 7 p.m. in Mercyhurst’s Walker Recital Hall.

The bi-partisan event seeks to bring together women from the college and greater community to discuss and learn about seeking political office. Panelists for the event are Kathy Dahlkemper, Dana Brown of Chatham College, Denise Robison, former Erie City Councilwoman and Courtney Sullivan, Mercyhurst University graduate student. Moderated by Lena Surzhko-Harned, Ph.D., the panel discussion will consist of a presentation from each panelist, followed by a question and answer session.

I’m going because I want to learn more, because I want to change the political discourse in our country and because trailing countries like Afghanistan and Cuba in this area is appalling.