Educating Young Women on Running for Office

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As you already know, the lack of women in government is a troubling issue. Perpetuating racist and sexist values, isolating and harming millions of citizens, and creating a government that is not representative of the people, the problem is, to say the least, terrible. The effects of this issue come into sharp view frequently; just yesterday, the House passed the American Health Care Act which clearly discriminates against women. If more women had been making decisions on this bill, would we see the same outcome? What changes would we see in our economy, foreign policy, or justice system? We will never know until more women are winning seats, and that is where you come in. Your program is a great place for women to start on the road to government where we can finally see the effects they will have on our cities, states, and country. In a survey I conducted among 124 people, only nine girls said they would be interested in running for office, a low and uninspiring statistic that I believe can be increased through education and training from a program such as yours. Additionally, one woman I interviewed said that while she was lucky to have been able to participate in a workshop, “there are a lot of other really amazing people who are not having their schools provide them with...programs. That probably minimizes the voices, the important voices that we need…people from like lower socioeconomic statuses, and it worries me that…you’re missing a lot of talent.” With a program like yours visiting such a diverse community as Oakland Tech, students from many different backgrounds, religions, races, and homes will have the opportunity to learn about running for office, which will benefit us all.


Thus, I ask that you create a small program within the Race, Policy, and Law Academy at Oakland Technical High School here in Oakland. My vision for this program includes a monthly visit to the school where students are able to learn the basics of running for office; particularly, the steps needed to run a campaign, the fundamental role one plays in government, as well as what changes different representation brings to policy. This action will effectively combat both the root causes and the current effects of the issue itself because firstly, girls will be exposed to politics at a younger age where they will be provided an education on politics that does not currently exist, and secondly, their male peers will become more used to seeing women in politics, leadership positions, and as equals, furthering collaboration and productivity in government. Additionally, even if participants do not enter politics in the future, they will be educated on how government works, thus creating a more informed, engaged voter. If we see success with this program at Oakland Tech, I hope that it can be expanded to other schools in Oakland, the Bay Area, and beyond, where we can see the effects spread to our government, making it more diverse, inclusive, and representative of the people.


         I hope you are as excited by this possibility as I am, and I hope to hear from you soon.


            Best,


            Penelope Martindale

 



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