Who can represent women better than women themselves?

December 4, 2012

Representative Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress.

I sat down to write this blog thinking it would be best, and easiest, to just write about how I got to where I am: the journey from entering college with one major and ending with another (in Political Science), to landing an amazing fellowship in Washington, DC. And while my new idea may be exceedingly controversial, and is a topic often avoided, it is one that has been discussed during our seminars, and one I cannot stop thinking about.

In my earlier years, I always believed that women should not be in a place of leadership, in the home, church, anywhere. You are probably thinking, “Really, come on Kymberly, we are in the 21st Century! Keep up!” No one told me to think this way; I was just raised in a very traditional household and attended a very traditional Baptist church. I never thought women were less capable but instead that God had intended for men to be in the position of leadership.

And then I began my college career, and by the end of my senior year, all I wanted was to be a career woman, and not just any career woman, but a potential Congresswoman. I should add that I went to a very small evangelical Christian university, so it is not that I “lost my way.” Instead I began to understand the importance in the separation of church and state—I could not equate political leadership with religious leadership. Political leadership is about finding leaders within the country who are capable of representing the rest of the citizens. For example, Congress, as stated in our constitution, is to represent every citizen of the United States of America, including women. Well, I must ask: who can represent women better, making up over 50% of the population, than women themselves? Women are not completely represented until our Congress is made up of at least 50% women; until then, Congress does not represent the WHOLE country.

I wanted to write about this issue because I am sure there are other women, whether Christian, Muslim, or Mormon (to name just a few), who struggle with this topic as well. I could go on and on explaining how I came to this conclusion about women in political leadership, but I find it is more important to end with one important statement: we need women in leadership because only women truly understand the issues of women and the need to create legislation to improve their lives.

– Kymberly Doenges, Star Fellow Fall 2012

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