Tuesday’s mid-term election was historic for women. It set the records for the number of women elected to government with 30 new women joining Congress. It’s a trend that many want to see continue far into the future. Amy Mangold was joined by Erika Taylor of Stepping Up to talk about women and politics.
Amy Mangold: Joining me tonight is Erika Taylor, part of Stepping Up, a local group that encourages women to pursue leadership roles, such as running for office and serving on boards. Thanks for joining us tonight, Erika.
Erika Taylor: Thanks for having me.
Amy: well, you know, every year Stepping Up plus the Women’s Equality Day committee – we celebrate getting to vote, women getting to vote, but now we’re seeing women run for office and win. How far have we come?
Erika: well, it’s an incredible thing, that’s for sure, um, Stepping Up aims to equip women to either run for office or to be a part of the political process through campaign leadership and um, be involved in politics so when you see on a national scale so many women truly stepping up – it’s incredible.
Amy: so, why do you think so many women chose to run this year for elected positions?
Erika: well, I think that overall all elected offices in the country women are underrepresented and, uh, women were looking and seeing what’s important to them, what they value, and who might get the job done and they thought why not me, why not now? And they decided to run for office to try to make a change.
Amy: and do you think some of the movements and some of the issues that are coming to the forefront – healthcare, and different things like that, have made a difference in encouraging woman to be represented?
Erika: Absolutely, women are leaders of the family, their breadwinners, their CEOs, they’re leading in all areas of life and they care about these issues. And I'm excited to see that so many women are able to put themselves out there and run for office and try to address these issues on a local and national level through elected positions.
Amy: Now this is a really neat group. As you mentioned, you offer different types of trainings and things like that giving little different pieces of how women can prepare themselves to maybe run for office or something like that. Or even take a leadership role in their communities, their neighborhoods or on local boards. So, how will this provide momentum for women to do just that?
Erika: Well, I think it will provide momentum and it's exiting to see. You know, we had a record breaking number of women elected to Congress. And so when you have maybe that woman sitting back wondering "What about me? I wonder if I could do that." They're going to see that and be inspired and know that their voice does matter and now there are women holding elected offices that will help bring their voice to the national and local political arena.
Amy: You know, we talk about just even beyond being just women...now this has bee na diverse group of women that just got elected last night. We have two Native Americans, we have two Hispanic women, we have two Muslim women, so we're now starting to see some diversity be introduced into this as well. What do you think about that and what does that say for the future?
Erika: I think actually that's the most exciting thing about yesterday's midterm election. Our country has been mostly a white male dominated view, in elected officials, on media, in television. So, you're going to see brown and black girls at home seeing girls that look like them in political office and that's incredible. You know, it's an incredible moment for people to see people that look like them holding these important positions because it gives them something to aspire to. Not only that, the diversity of religion, Native American women...it's just incredible. That truly is the voice of America. When you have diversity in those positions, you're going to see the voice of all Americans represented at the national level, and that's what it's about.
Amy: Of course, we are talking about the future, and the future not just in the next few years, but 10, 20 years down the road. So, what can parents do to talk with their kids, talk with their young girls, to talk with people of diversity? How can they use this to get people interested in serving in the future?
Erika: I think that people need to follow their passion. In your family unit, you know what values you hold dear, what issues you talk about at the kitchen table, and if you're looking at your daughter, and she's passionate about an issue, you let her know that she can do that. You can hold office, you can let your voice be heard. Don't wait for somebody to speak for you, speak for yourself. Go for it. By all of these diverse women winning office, it's going to tell those young ladies, hey, you can do this. You have a place in this society at the highest level. You just have to go for it. So, I think it was an excellent message and I hope that it resonates with young women all over the nation, and women of all ages. We do have a voice and it needs to be heard.
Amy: Now tell us some of the things that your group, Stepping Up, does. We talked about some of the events that you've held in the past. What types of things do you share with ladies to help equip them if they're interested in something like this.
Erika: Stepping Up was created to create a safe space for women to go and develop skills and expertise to be involved in the political process. It's a non-partisan group. Women of all backgrounds, ages, professions can go. And it's just about learning in a safe space about the skills that might be needed, the opportunities that may be available. Not just to be the candidate itself, but to be apart of the process. Whether it be campaign finance manager, a grassroots worker, or just gaining leadership skills for your own profession or community work. It's just meant to be another leadership training opportunity for women.
Amy: If someone wants to get involved with your group, or they just want to learn more, you're on Facebook right?
Erika: Sure. Stepping Up is on Facebook. If you follow the Facebook page, we promote the events we have throughout the year on Facebook. If you do like that page, then you should be alerted as to when our next event will be.
Amy: Erika Taylor with Stepping Up, thank you so much. So exciting. Thanks for all you do and helping women run for office. Thanks so much.
One person was taken to the hospital after an accident Sunday night…