5 Aug | Posted by Kate Lyon | no comments |
Written by: Christina Prejean
This past November, it became abundantly clear to me that I had to do something to ensure that more women were leading and in positions of power.
As a military officer deployed to Afghanistan, I’ve been in rooms where only men were at the table, discussing ways to improve conditions in the community, without ever mentioning or considering the needs of half of the population: women.
And now, as an attorney and active citizen, I see photos taken in Washington, D.C. of our nation’s leaders; where only men are sitting at tables, discussing issues concerning women’s health – without having a single woman in the room to receive input from or contribute to the conversation that so intimately concerns decisions made about her body.
Women are half of the population, yet if we are not sitting at those tables of power, making key decisions that effect our communities, then our country, our state, and our city is being robbed of amazing leadership.
And that is why I became more involved in Run Women Run (RWR) as a Community Engagement Committee Co-Chair, and why I saw the importance of re-starting the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC) chapter of San Diego. The mission of both RWR and NWPC is to recruit, train, and elect pro-choice women into elected and appointed office.
If there is anything that we have learned from this past election, it’s that women can no longer wait. We can no longer be on the sidelines, and we can no longer trust that our voices will be heard. We must take matters into our own hands.
Today, the U.S. ranks 101st in gender equity in our national legislature; below China, Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a major decrease from decades ago, when we were ranked 52nd. In the past 25 years, the number of women in the House of Representatives has increased by only 9%; women in the Senate has increased by only 13%; and women in State Legislatures has increased by only 4%. At this rate, we will not reach gender parity for women in State Legislatures until 150 years from now, in the year 2167.
We cannot wait another 150 years. We must speed up this process, and it starts with us. It is also imperative that the voices of women of color, women Veterans, and younger women are heard in the corridors of power. Young women make up our labor force and are at the age of childbearing; the gender wage gap, healthcare, affordable childcare, and accessible family planning all impact our daily lives. That is why it is crucial that young women of all races, religions, sexual orientation, and ethnic backgrounds lead.
On June 24, 2017, NWPC San Diego launched our inaugural event, “Ready to Run,” political candidate training, where over 70 people attended. Our panelist speakers included elected officials, including City Councilmember Barbara Bry, San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliot, former Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, California State Senator Toni Atkins, and Congresswoman Susan Davis (left to right pictured below).
The second half of our event included women who run political campaigns, including campaign treasurer Stephanie Sanchez, campaign consultant Eva Posner, campaign strategist Tatiana Matta, public speaking coach Jenni Prisk, and fundraiser Eva Facundo (left to right pictured below). Our event also hosted a reception after, featuring Delaine Eastin, candidate for California Governor.
The message was clear from our speakers: it is vital that women run for office and lead in all levels of government. It was clear from our second panel that women also play crucial “behind-the-scenes” roles on the campaign, as staffers, as consultants, and more.
We must be deliberate, we must be intentional, and we must take action to ensure we reach gender parity. The time is now, and we need women to run for office.
If we are not at the table, we will be (and have been) on the menu. Americans, Californians, and San Diegans deserve a political class that reflects not only our demographics but also the values that we hold dear to us.
Christina Prejean is a military veteran and served in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from 2010 to 2011; where, among her principal job of protecting Department of Defense VIPs, she was a Sexual Assault Victim Advocate and helped lead humanitarian missions to refugee camps and women’s centers in Kabul. Christina is an attorney at a civil litigation law firm in San Diego, assisting clients in English and Spanish, and volunteers on the Veterans Treatment Court, advocating for Veterans in the criminal system. Passionate about women’s rights and equality, she created “She Is Greater,” a social media platform to empower and educate on issues women and girls face globally.