2018 is the perfect time for women to run our country

2018 is the perfect time for women to run our country
© Greg Nash

It seems unfathomable that in the 21 century, women still have to fight to prove that women’s rights are human rights, especially given that countless studies have demonstrated that societies as a whole fair better the more empowered women are; yet, the United States seems to be slow on the uptake.

2017 was particularly rough for U.S. women; this year, we have been inundated with Trump’s sexist and degrading tweets (like this one recently against Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandAdvocacy groups decry Trump's 'anti-family policies' ahead of White House summit This bipartisan plan is the most progressive approach to paid parental leave Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' MORE (D-N.Y.), as well as overwhelmed by the news of sexual assault and harassment against women coming from Capitol Hill and out of Hollywood.

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More and more fed up with systemic misogyny, disenfranchisement, and the pervasive wage gap, women from various racial, economic, and political backgrounds appear to be increasing galvanized for political and social reform, and are bringing their voice and collective power to the table to work so their voices can be heard.

 

In the words of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to the United States Congress in 1968, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

Since Trump’s election, women have overwhelmingly felt the negative side-effects of this new administration; we fear the loss of family due to deportation, more incarceration, inequitable education for our children, and other infringements on our constitutional rights.

According to the Guardian, women are on the back burner across the board; this year’s leadership is “the most male-dominated federal government in nearly a quarter-century” with approximately 80 percent of top job nominations in the past year going to men.

With continued marginalization and the further toxicity and inefficiencies of the Trump administration, women have been taking to the streets to protest and advocate for themselves, their families, and this country.

Our activism has taken many different forms, from protests like the Jan. 21, 2017 Women’s March (which is slated to take place again in 2018), to the large voter turnout of women, particularly Black women in support of Alabama’s Doug Jones (R) against Senate candidate Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreThe job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' Former AG Sessions enters Alabama Senate race Campaign ad casts Sessions as a 'traitor' ahead of expected Senate run MORE (R), as well as the substantial uptick in women fundraising and campaigning for political office.

In 2020, we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote. Of course, despite this rhetorical right, we are still a long way from parity and equity in politics.

However, because 2017 saw an increase in the number of women to hold political positions in the United States, I believe that 2018 has the potential to be a time for meaningful and lasting change, where a substantial female presence in federal and state leadership will not seem quixotic. According to Emily’s List, more than 22,000 women are seeking to run for office.

As politicians, humanitarians, grassroots activists, CEOs, and more, women have shown time and time again that we have what it takes to get things done, to make things great, and we have been leading many social justice movements. If we are to change the state of this country, we must change who is running for office and what that leadership looks like. Make no mistake, not any woman will do. We need women who represent dignity and respect for all, not just the wealthy and highly-educated.

For myself, and organizations like mine, Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children, we are most concerned with the well-being of our children and believe that children’s issues are paramount. We are fighting to let kids be kids; they should not denied equitable educational opportunities or be at risk of the prison system. Children need access to healthcare, mental health services, and quality education to move from poverty to prosperity.

If we believe that all children are our future, these and other services should be maintained and cultivated, rather than slashed (as the current administration is doing). We believe that 2018 has the potential to be a key turning point for the health of our nation, especially with regards to how it accommodates and nurtures our youth.

We look forward to voting for and supporting diligent, thoughtful, capable female candidates who understand the ways in which our society can work harder to care and provide for America's children.

Gina Womack is the executive director of Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children, an organization which works with children at risk of being imprisoned and their families. Follow her on Twitter @ginabwomack