In celebration of Women’s History Month, Running Start and the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum hosted a congressional breakfast event yesterday, “Celebrating Young Women in Congress,” to honor the women Members of Congress under the age of 50 for their public service and for the example they set for young women across the country.
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz opened the event by sharing her own experience leading as a young woman and her continued efforts to get more young women to run for political office. The Congresswoman remembered how critical women’s groups and women supporters were for her when she first ran for office and underscored how important it is for women to hold each other up.
Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz paid tribute to colleague and friend who has provided her with continued support, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. The Congresswoman noted that Giffords would be proud to see so many young women gathered to recognize the importance of having more women in elected office. On the events that took place in Arizona this January, Wasserman Schultz stressed that young women must not let such a tragedy deter them from running for office. “There is risk in everything we do,” she pointed out, “but we can’t let a madman keep us from raising our voices.”
Congresswoman Linda Sanchez followed, focusing on the important perspective young women bring to the decision-making table. She pointed out that the 112th Congress is one of the oldest, whitest, and most male-dominated Congresses we’ve seen in decades. For the sake of a more balanced and productive government and better policy, Sanchez maintained that now more than ever, we need to hear the voices and fresh perspectives of talented young women in Congress.
Congresswoman Martha Roby emphasized the importance of mentoring other young women, citing her own female mentors as having had an incredible impact on her career path. As important as having women reach the top, Roby pointed out, it’s equally important that those women reach down and pull another young woman up.
Senator Amy Klobuchar closed the day with a few words on the importance of powerful female role models. Klobuchar shared how Geraldine Ferraro’s historic run for Vice President helped instill in her the belief that women can achieve anything. Years later the Senator was reminded of the importance of female role models as she overheard a conversation between her five year old daughter and a friend. Her daughter and her friend were discussing what they’d like to be when they grown up and Klobuchar she couldn’t have been prouder to hear her daughter say that she’d like to be a mother, but of course she couldn’t do that until she had run for office and won a seat in Congress.
Thanks to the example set by inspiring women like these, we hope young girls continue to receive that message.
– Allison Dunatchik, Program Director, Running Start