Women and Politics: Why Our Voices Matter

With the upcoming 2020 election, there is much political tension and uncertainty in our country. In this next season, women’s voices and attendance at the polls will be vital. Currently, women make up 50.8 percent of the population, yet 53 percent of non-voters are female. With these significant numbers, we have to ask, why is this?

The Knight Foundation conducted a survey of 14,000 individuals that provides some answers to this question. Most chronic nonvoting is due to access, education, socioeconomic status, etc. It is vital to acknowledge this disconnect. This could be the case for many individuals, especially women that experience a lack of access to polls.

Obviously, there have to be some women that are involved in politics. The question is then, can these be the women that draw in more women voters? Many of the topics that are hot button topics right now have women at the center of these conversations, such as abortion, equal pay, Planned Parenthood funding, paid sick and maternity leave, and many more. It is a hope that women who are already involved in politics can help draw in more women to be politically involved.

Personally, I love politics and thrive in this season of elections as I learn from potential candidates and am challenged by their thoughts. We are at a unique point during this Democratic primary, we are able to hear women’s voices, specifically, those women that are running for office. I think that as women, we play a valuable role in the response to this process, and a response to the women running for the highest office in our country. What does this mean for us?

One source states that women ages 50 and up will be the ones who decide the 2020 election. An AARP poll finds that “…95 percent of older women plan to cast a ballot in November. The survey shows that these voters are engaged, motivated and plan to closely scrutinize the positions of those seeking their support on such pivotal issues as health care and the economy” (Bunis, 2019). The participation of this population is vital in the perspective and voice that they bring. Not only does this population bring the knowledge of being a woman, but they also bring life experience, as this was a poll of women that are aged 50 plus. While it is important to have this cohort of Americans as active voters, we need all people, 18 and up, to use their voice and vote. This is because diversity is very important when it comes to voting and electing individuals who are going to be our country’s leaders. Typically, when people from diverse backgrounds are voting, there is going to be more diversity in elected officials.

One website called theSkimm, interviewed 1,067 millennial women, ages 23-28, to gain their perspective on this current political season and the upcoming 2020 election. This is valuable information in that, “29% of millennial women say they’ve had a meaningful conversation with someone who has different political views… (and) 30% have stopped following or blocked someone on social media over politics” (2019). This information is relevant because these conversations and interactions impact the way that young voters vote and the way that they perceive politics. Young voters, especially young women, are very influential in politics. The reason for this is that there are many topics that are relevant to these young women that could possibly bring to them to the polls, as mentioned above. With social media being a common communication method for millennials, it is not uncommon that this can impact the way that they vote and how they take in information, especially in regard to politics.

All and all, we want all people to vote. But, we do have to recognize that women have not always had the right to vote. In 1920, women were finally granted the right to vote by the ratification of the 19th amendment. For me, this makes me reflect on how important it is to vote, especially since women have not always had that privilege. There is an article called Why Women Should Vote written by Alice Stone Blackwell, sometime after 1896. In this article, there is a description of powerful reasons why women should vote. Here are a few of the reasons that really stuck out to me:

  • “Because it is the quietest, easiest, most dignified and least conspicuous way of influencing public affairs. It takes much less expenditure of time, labor and personal presence to go up to the ballot box, drop in a slip of paper, and then come away, than to persuade a multitude of miscellaneous voters to vote right.”
  • “Because it would make women more broadminded. Professor Edward H,. Griggs says: ‘The ballot is an educator, and women will become more practical and more wise in using it.’”
  • “Because a woman’s ballot will make it hard for the notoriously bad candidates to be nominated or elected. In the equal suffrage states, both parties have to put men of respectable character or lose the women’s vote.”

What do we know about women? We know that women are such valuable assets to our community. Women’s voices matter. Women’s opinions are important. Women are smart and are able to make informed decisions. All in all, this goes back to empowering women. We need to work on lifting each other and helping our voices become heard. An easy way to do this? Go out and vote! As the 2020 election is quickly approaching, it has never been a better time than this to let woman’s voices be louder. Let us remind each other to go out, vote, and be the voice to advocate for a better tomorrow.

 

Sources:

Bunis, D. (2019, December 18). Women Age 50 Could Decide the 2020 Election. Retrieved February 26, 2020, from https://www.aarp.org/politics-society/government-elections/info-2019/women-voting-poll.html

Millennial Women and Politics: Their Thoughts on 2020. (2019, November 5). Retrieved February 26, 2020, from https://www.theskimm.com/2020/millennial-women-politics

Ralph, E. (2020, February 21). The Women Who Don’t Vote. Retrieved February 21, 2020, from https://www.politico.com/newsletters/women-rule/2020/02/21/the-women-who-dont-vote-488386

Stone Blackwell, A. (n.d.). Why Women Should Vote – American Memory Timeline- Classroom Presentation: Teacher Resources. Retrieved March 4, 2020, from http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/timeline/progress/suffrage/whyvote.html

Image source: https://www.vwt.org.au/10-teenage-girls-power-good/

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