Girls Run DC Scholarship Fund: A project for representation!

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Hello everyone,

I just wanted to introduce a new project I am working on! As some of you may know, last semester was an eventful one! Last semester, I interned on the Hill, interned at Running Start (a non-profit that trains young women to run for office) and was elected as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner. All of which was happening as I started researching gender dynamics in politics for a paper I am still working on. More than anything, I developed a passion for politics, particularly the politics of representation.

This includes thinking about who is being represented by our governing bodies, who is not, and what can be done to ensure that our democracy is as representative of “we the people” as possible. Studying and thinking about the politics of representation made me particularly interested in the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions that serve DC residents. Advisory Neighborhood Commissions are designed to help DC residents’ access public services and advise city officials and agencies on how to best serve their neighborhoods. The hyperlocal nature of these commissions make DC government more accountable to constituents and representative of them. In order to learn more about commissions, I suggest reading District Wire’s article: Get to Know DC government: Advisory Neighborhood Commissions.

Learning more about ANCs, paired well with my belief that women can and should hold elective office in order to advocate for their own needs, along with the needs of their respective communities. That is why, as part of my current project, I will continue to blog about the politics of representation, focusing on women of color in politics. In addition to this, I will be working with Running Start, to create a scholarship. Running Start is the only organization that trains young women to run for office. Through trainings such as the Young Women’s Political Leadership program, Running Start aims at teaching young women on how to run so that they will do so at a younger age, building a pipeline for more women to follow. My goal is to fundraise $1,800 in order to pay for a young woman of color, planning to run for an Advisory Neighborhood Commission seat to attend the Young Women’s Political Leadership program. ANC’s provide great platforms for change by allowing elected officials to work alongside their communities to improve the wellbeing of their neighborhoods. This scholarship would help train a young woman to run for office, and would allow for about a year between the training and the election next ANC election cycle. Not only would donating to this scholarship be an investment in the scholarship recipient, but and investment in her local community as well.

Thanks,

Regina

In order to donate to the scholarship fund, click here!

Women in the Museum!

I took this picture in the American History Museum

I took this picture in the American History Museum

In order to celebrate the beautiful weather we had yesterday, in DC, I decided to run down to the National Mall and enjoy the scenery as the winter ends and the spring begins. Once at the mall, I decided that I wanted to go see what was going on at the National Museum of American History for Women’s History Month (MARCH).

Do you know what the National American History Museum is doing for Women’s History Month? 

Nothing special.

I was very disappointed to hear that the museum wasn’t highlighting women differently in order to celebrate the women who have contributed to our country’s progress. Then I thought: have women just not contributed enough to our country’s progress as men? I knew that couldn’t be it so I decided to walk through the museum and document all of the times in which women are highlighted or mentioned throughout the exhibits. When I went through all of the exhibits I couldn’t help but notice that individual women were hardly highlighted. Yes, often there was mention of how “the women” helped the war effort during WWII, or how “women” were delegated to home life, or how “women” were helped by the introduction of electric kitchen appliances. “Women” were spoken about in plural, and usually, and the “women” that were anonymously depicted in the pictures that were paired with the general statements made about them, appeared to be white and middle-to-upper class.

To conclude:

Women HAVE contributed to America’s progress, and they SHOULD be more represented. Women are being more included, but people need to be more educated about what women have contributed to our history. History is HERstory too.

I took note of the women(and women’s organizations) highlighted by name (I may have missed some of the women, and I sure hope I did because although the list seems long, I literally had to scour the exhibitions for the mentioning of women):

Lucrecia Mott

Susan B. Anthony

Alice Paul

Rosalind Franklin

Mary Pickersgill

Columbia (I wrote about Columbia in my post about The Statue of Freedom which was modeled after her)

Lucy Caldwell

Harriet Beecher

Margaret Caldwell

Ladies Anti-Slavery Society, 1836

Ipswich Female Anti Slavery Society

Catherine and Mary Lynch

Mary Scott & her family

Girl Scout

Juliette Gordon Low

Rachel Carson

Julia Child

Gabby Douglass

Mary Walker

Eleanor Roosevelt

The Importance of having Women, like Columbia, on Top!

The Statue of Freedom

Who is Freedom? Freedom is the statue of a woman who stands atop the U.S. Capitol building.

Why does it matter that she’s on top?

Freedom, who is prominently located in the heart of DC, is one of the few statues of women. In fact, according to “America Needs More Stone-faced Women,” less than 8% of public statues honor women! There are many statues in DC, but  few of them depict women!

According to Bill O’Leary’s “Gender inequality, in form:

9 out of the 100 statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection are of women.

Our nation’s Capitol, a symbol of American, democratic, values has a woman standing on top of it, but contains few other representations of women within it. The Statue of Freedom is a rendering of the Goddess of Columbia, which is usually seen as the personification of the United States of America. I am baffled at the fact that women are given that much symbolic significance, yet they are not equally represented in statue form, or in our legislative bodies.

As Barry Schwartz points out in his article “Iconography and Collective Memory: Lincoln’s Image in the American Mind.”  “Arguments about statues often turn out to be arguments about the past and its legacy.” Statues are made to commemorate prominent historical figures, so that they will be remembered and so that a collective memory of them will be established. The fact that we have so few commemorative statues of women in the Capitol makes me question a couple of things:

  • Were women throughout history just not relevant enough to commemorate?
  • Do the lack of statues depicting women of achievement add to the inequality women face today?

In response to the first bullet, here’s a crash course on influential American Women from US history, explaining that there is MUCH to be sculpted in honor of women:

It’s nothing new, but people in the U.S. are FINALLY starting to pay more attention to the fact that women are vastly underrepresented in American legislative bodies. As per the Center for American Women and  Politics, in their Women in the U.S. Congress Fact Sheet: “Women currently hold 99, or 18.5%, of the 535 seats in the 113th U.S. Congress.”

What do statues have to do with power and the amount of women in Congress?

EVERYTHING. Culture reflects what society values, if our Capitol building primarily reflects the value of men, and the accomplishments of men throughout history, it will be less welcoming of women leaders. Women have less power in the United States, and the lack of statues reflects that.  After all, the lack of statues speaks loud and clear:  the accomplishments of women aren’t as celebrated as the accomplishments of men.

We need to commemorate the women who have shaped America, so that more women will run for office, take their power and change it for the better!