Women need to be more active in local, national politics

Female legislators are proportionally low, voters must make up difference to protect rights



Grace Hendrickson, treasurer of the Political Science Club, speaks about the importance of women involving themselves in politics Saturday in the CUB.

KRISTIN BULZOMI, Evergreen columnist

In politics, it matters who lobbies their congresspeople or governors, who votes and who runs for office. It matters if only a certain special interest group is vocal about its issues and not others.

It is essential to democracy that citizens vote and voice their opinions about issues that are important to society. This is especially true for women in the current political climate.

Despite making up roughly an equal share of the electorate in both Whitman County and Washington state, according to election statistics provided by the Office of the Secretary of State women only make up less than half of the elective office positions.

Washington state’s legislature has the fifth-highest percentage of women in office at only 37.4 percent, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.

The amount of women in elected office nationally is even worse. Only 20 percent of Congress, 23.4 percent of statewide elective executive offices and 25.5 percent of state legislatures in 2018 are made up of women, according to CAWP statistics.

Men are being elected and making decisions on what a woman can and cannot do with her own body, sometimes without a basic understanding of how a woman’s body works. In 2015, for instance, Idaho lawmaker Vito Barbieri thought a camera pill swallowed via the mouth would end up in the vagina, which is definitely not how anatomy works.

“If you are not a woman, you should have literally no say in how women’s health care works because you are not a woman,” said Grace Hendrickson, treasurer of the Political Science Club.

In the current political climate, women could be one Supreme Court decision away from losing access to sexual and reproductive healthcare. This is especially relevant to the WSU campus and not only to women but also to men, said Hendrickson.

If certain politicians are able to defund Planned Parenthood, that would mean no more screenings. STDs are higher in Whitman County than in the rest of the state, according to an article published in The Daily Evergreen.

Planned Parenthood is important here, now more than ever.

If politicians banned abortion, that means no morning-after pill and no abortions in case the morning-after pill or birth control fails. If politicians dismantle the Affordable Care Act, that means no more free birth control.

If you rely on these things, you should vote.

“Exercise your voice and make a difference,” said Hendrickson. “If you are upset with the way things are or you want something to be one way, then do something about it.”

Vote not only in national elections — vote in your local elections. Local politics often get ignored because of the prominence of national politics, but they are actually more important here since we live in a district that can swing red or blue based on who votes.

And don’t just vote, get active. Write to your congressperson or governor, or even run for office. If you want to change a certain issue, speak up. Tell your officials what you want them to do, how you want them to vote or run for office yourself.

“[If] you don’t like it, then don’t complain about it,” Hendrickson said.

We need more women voting and more women in office.

“When we have more women in politics, we definitely foster a lot more cooperation and productivity,” Hendrickson said. “I think it would inspire young girls and other women to voice their opinion.”

I think so, too. I grew up watching Dana Scully on “The X-Files” as many young girls and women did in the 90s. And we grew up to enter STEM fields because Scully was such a big role model.

Women in office inspire girls in the same way.

This midterm election cycle Nov. 6, get out and vote. Make your voice heard.