On Friday October 30th, I had the opportunity to participate in the Elect Her training day which was organized by HerCampus and Running Start. During this training, I had the pleasure to listen to many inspirational women in positions of power who shared their wisdom, stories, advice, struggles, and so much more. It was very inspiring to hear so many women push for what they wanted in order to influence a positive change in their communities. The coolest part was that it was a diverse group of women speakers; they came from different cultures, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, cities, ages, educations, and sexualities. The main takeaway they all seemed to emphasize was the need for women in positions of power to make decisions for women, to be brave, to make changes big or small in our own communities in order to pave the way for a better tomorrow, and to make and take opportunities to get involved. It was an eye-opening experience for me because I used to believe that getting positions of power was nearly impossible; but all it takes is effort, a good support system and determination to try again if you don’t succeed the first time. It is also important to get help from experienced individuals and these women were incredibly supportive and kept reinforcing the fact that we can message them and ask for advice whenever. They promised to be allies and make sure we will never face challenges alone.
My personal favourite speaker of the day was Stephanie Howse, a state representative that represents the Ohio House District 11. She comes from a STEM background as she is also an engineer but decided to pursue politics. She says that STEM equipped her with the problem-solving skills she needs to be the great politician she is today. She inspires me as I am also in STEM and reinforced the fact that you do not need to have a political background or degree to be part of politics. There were plenty of other great speakers, but Mrs. Howse resonated the most with me.
Other speakers dished out many unforgettable quotes such as, “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu”; this means if you do not become part of the conversation, you cannot make the change and your choices will be made for you. Another great quote was, “we don’t need laws for women, we need laws made by women.” This was my personal favourite because who better to make laws about women other than women? No one. Women know each other best. It is crucial that women sit in places of power and have a say in the polices being made in order to protect and push for women’s rights and equality.
At the end of the guest speaker portion of the webinar, there was a Zoom with mini workshops run by Running Start where I got to meet powerful aspiring young politicians from across the U.S. and a few other countries. As the only Canadian, I got to learn a lot about American politics and meet a lot of really cool women. The workshops we got to do included how to network, how to write an elevator pitch, and how to pinpoint and articulate the issues we are passionate about. It was really fun to take part in these exercises and share my opinions and ideas as well as listen to others. The day ended off with an elevator speech contest which sadly I did not win, but had a lot of fun taking part in.
If an Elect Her training occurs next year, I urge all the girls who are even slightly interested in politics to apply and take part in this fun and educational day. You won’t regret hearing all the inspiring stories and taking the first step to make a positive change in your community.