America the beautiful. The land of milk, honey and immense opportunity. In spite of our nation's status as one of the greatest world powers, we have yet to fully address one key issue -- the lack of equal representation of women in positions of leadership. Though women represent 51 percent of the population, we only comprise 18% of the United States House of Representatives and Senate. These statistics are a sad reflection of our society's difficulty with viewing women in strong positions of authority. This is evident in the media's treatment of women candidates for public office, including Wendy Davis and Hillary Clinton. There is a problem when public officials are chastised for their appearance and shamed for choosing to pursue an education or career instead of devoting one's life solely to motherhood.
As a country, we are failing in our efforts to include women in national and local politics while subjecting politicians to insufferable forms of sexism. In the same fashion that our foremothers (i.e. Susan B. Anthony, Gloria Steinem, Ellie Smeal) used activism to attain voting rights and reproductive justice, we must return to these grassroots methods to dismantle sexist political institutions.
The Women's Information Network (WIN) has responded to this obvious need for change. This organization was created in 1989, based on the ideology that women can help women climb the ladder of success. Presently, WIN stands as Washington's premier professional, political, and social network dedicated to empowering young, Democratic, pro-choice women. WIN has built their success on the belief that women belong in the House...the Senate and Oval Office as well.
WIN is currently celebrating their 25th anniversary while bolstering a whooping 1,250 members. Their largest success is shown in their programming that teaches members how to lead, campaign, organize, and run for office. WIN also takes a strategic approach in changing the landscape of women in politics by making efforts to include women of color and minorities. They are working to transform political feminism from activism that exclusively caters to middle-class or wealthy white women to reflect the varied identities present within the women's community.
WIN Chair Amy Tannenbaum asserts, "WIN also recognizes that we are only as good at advancing women as we are at recognizing and celebrating the differences that are present in our community. We have created a new initiative on diversity and inclusion to ensure that our outreach, programming, and mission reflect and center groups that have been traditionally marginalized within the women's community." She also credits this nonprofit for helping her develop "leadership skills and time management, and to gain event and strategic planning experience."
WIN offers roughly 100 volunteer leadership positions to its members, most of which they are able to apply for and take on from day one of their membership. Opportunities to direct a professional network, lead a political action or planning team, or spearhead event planning give WINners tangible ways to develop their skills, engage in professional development, and prepare for the careers of their dreams.
The overall message one can take from the work of WIN is that women helping women is a form of social justice. In the immortal words of Madeleine Albright, "there is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." We must view their women as our sisters and not competitor. The glass ceiling can never be broken without unity. This form of unified leadership means we must and can band together for the advancement of women.