In the past decade more women than ever have ascended to positions of political leadership. In 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won the Democratic primary for New York’s 14th Congressional District, becoming the youngest woman in history elected to Congress. In 2020, Kamala Harris became the first woman and the first woman of color to be elected Vice-President of the United States. The barriers that women have faced to rise and maintain political power demonstrates the resilience that they have.
The City of Pasadena continued the celebration of Women’s History Month, which ended in March, hosting a virtual event on April 21 that celebrated women.
“Herstory 2021: Celebrating and Elevating Women to Public Office,” is an annual event that is intended to emphasize the importance of female representation in politics and government.
The event welcomed diverse female speakers that have held or currently hold positions of political representation. U.S. Representative for California’s 27th Congressional District Judy Chu was one of the first speakers, detailing her journey in obtaining the position she has today. She emphasized the importance of perseverance and finding a mentor that can support you in succeeding.
“Find a mentor, find somebody who believes in you and will help you. I found one with Los Angeles County Supervisor for the 1st district Hilda Solis and it made all the difference in the world. When women support each other, we succeed in making real change,” said Chu.
During the event, it was mentioned that for some women involved in politics, the initiative of running for office comes only after someone acknowledges them and does the suggestion for such candidacy. For instance, Los Angeles County Supervisor for the 5th district, Kathryn Barger, shared her experience on how she considered running for office.
“What you’ll find if you talk to a lot of women is that many of them will be told or asked to run. Men wake up and think, ‘I can do it, I’m going to run for office.’ Women tend to have people come to them and say ‘Have you thought about running? We want you to run.’ That was exactly me,” said Barger.
Female representation is relevant and crucial at any level, including in higher education. At Pasadena City College, the Associated Students’ Executive Board consists of 12 current students that are elected annually to represent and work for the students. For the 2020-2021 academic year, the board consists of 7 men and 5 women.
“Women’s representation in government is important because not only does it serve as a model for future women to be in position of power and government, but also to have that perspective of how women are affected by government policies, in addition in having a balance and diverse government,” said Ma Louise Panaligan, Vice President of Student Services at PCC.
It is essential to keep growing female participation in student government in order to have a balanced perspective when assessing decisions that may impact the college’s student body.
Mackenzie Rivera, President of the Associated Students, agrees.
“Having a place in government is the main way in which women can have their voices heard,” said Rivera.
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