Getting Today's Girls On Tomorrow's Ballots

11/20/2017 03:58 pm ET
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“We do not ever lower our standards. We raise our hands.”

Girls, you have heard us say it before - the mothers, big sisters and cool aunts - we tell you to raise your hands. We have urged you to do so in class, in support of what you believe and in protest of what you disavow. But now we have another reason for you to raise those hands...we want you to run. For office.

Not today.

But soon.

And you’ll need to be ready.

You know that feeling when you solve a friend’s problem? Or pitch in to help a neighbor? The glow that comes from making a difference? What if you could feel that way all the time? As part of your job?

Well, you can.

Public service, at every level, offers the possibility of accomplishment and actual change. And...wait for it...you don’t need to be a grown up to start.

Let that sink in.

Running for student council or class president could bring fresh initiatives to your school. Listening to political speeches or debates can help you decide how you feel about current issues. Volunteering in a local campaign might mean that young ideas - your ideas - get heard. And...it puts you in the room.

Because, here’s the thing - you want to be the girl in the room where things are being decided. Always.

And luckily, there are organizations that know how to put you there.

Non-partisan groups like Girls In Politics are experts at introducing girls ages 8 to 17 to politics, policy and how governments work. Attend one of their events and you’ll find yourself building your own campaign platform and learning how to fundraise and lobby legislators...as early as middle school. Then check out all the inspiring resources at Teach A Girl To Lead! As you get older, organizations like She Should Run, Running Start and All In Together will be waiting to cultivate your ideas, train you in civic leadership and encourage you to run.

Think you are too young? They don’t.

These groups are incubators of the next political generation, and they know potential when they see it. And when they see you...today’s informed, inquisitive and impassioned girls...they see tomorrow’s candidates. Tomorrow’s leaders.

#LeadersWeNeed.

Because women don’t make up even close to half of the U.S. political process. Not close to half. Right now, less than 20% of the U.S. Congress is female and only 3 of our 9 Supreme Court Justices are women. Wait...it gets worse. Women today make up only 25% of U.S. state legislators, hold fewer than 25% of statewide elective executive offices and represent merely 20% of the mayors in the 100 largest U.S. cities...and the numbers are even smaller for women of color.

Girls, it’s time to get ready.

Now, here’s the good news! You have an army of supporters already at your back, from those in your own home to those in charge of the political pipelines. Research indicates that parents see their daughters as natural-born leaders and, despite the gender gap in politics, believe in their ability to succeed. And CEOs of the aforementioned groups believe in you too. Listen when Girls In Politics founder Kimberly Mitchem-Rasmussen reminds you that:

“You have a voice and it matters. You are fortunate in that technology, specifically social media, allows you the opportunity to amplify your voice and mobilize not just the girls in your community, but girls around the world. Take advantage of this opportunity and speak out on the issues that you care about most. You have a voice and it matters.”

Then hear what Lauren Leader-Chivee, founder and CEO of All In Together, wants you to know:

“The voting age may be 18, but that doesn’t mean you need to wait until then to actively engage with politics. Whether it’s attending town halls, writing letters to elected representatives or campaigning for a local candidate, there are so many ways that girls of any age can advocate for the issues they care about. Research shows that women are less likely than men to participate in political advocacy. Girls - we need your voices and your passion to help change that!”

We couldn’t say it any better.

Girls - we need you.

We need you to raise your hand and your voice.

To be the girl in the room. Because sooner than you realize you’ll be the girl in the booth...and then maybe...just maybe...the woman on the ballot.

And the only way to know for sure is to be ready.

Ready to raise your hand. And run.

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