There are a million reasons to love NBC’s Parks and Recreation. Amy Poehler is the first hundred, and her character, Councilwoman Leslie Knope, makes up most of the rest. Leslie is spunky, smart, and joyfully tackles a job that most women have never even considered: serving in public office. Considering we’re almost a century out from being able to vote, you might think the ladies’ share of political pie would be a bit larger. Yet, currently only 18.5% of Congress, 18% of mayors, and five governors are female. Is that good enough? KNOPE!
The proof is in the pudding. Women make government more transparent, inclusive, accessible, and (dare I say it) functional. For example, when the government shut down in October 2013, six bipartisan female senators were credited with using friendship, trust, and compromise to re-open it. I’d like to think there’s a little Leslie Knope in all of us, so, how do we get involved?
Register To Vote
Registering to vote is one of the simplest, easiest ways to have a voice. You can register online, through the mail, or on your next trip to the DMV. (Just make sure to re-register if you move or change your name.)
Be An Advocate
If you have an opinion about neighborhood development, stray animals, or even preserving a historic landmark, check out City Hall or local newspapers for public meeting times. Being present is the first step to being heard.
Public boards and commissions serve as a liaison between the community and the local government, giving advice on everything from cultural heritage to environmental protection to the status of women. Research the commissions and boards in your city and state to see which grab your eye.
Run For Office
No doubt about it, running for elected office can be intimidating. However, studies prove that no matter what position women run for, they’re just as likely as men to win their races! Considering campaigning but not sure where to start? Ready to Run and Running Start give women the tools and training needed to kick off their first campaign.
Even if politics isn’t your game, the skills and lessons apply to every day life. Picking a supportive partner (Hello, Ben Wyatt) and valuing the women around you (anyone else throwing a Galentine’s party for your BFFs this February 13th?) are central to the success of girl power. Whether we’re communicating diplomatically with family, negotiating for raise, or rallying support for a good cause: having political ambition is feminine and powerful. Let’s get to work.
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