August 26th was the 96th Anniversary of the congressional certification of the 19th Amendment, providing women with the constitutional right to vote. The efforts and sacrifices of so many women – and men – were essential for this spectacular accomplishment.
As an individual that was influenced by the women’s movement of the sixties and seventies, I grew up feeling I’d missed the opportunity participate in something very special. It seemed the work had been finished, and all would be well for women going forward. To varying degrees this has been true, especially as it relates to education, business and entrepreneurship. Pay equality remains elusive in some cases, but there is real optimism in addressing disparities.
However, when it comes to public service leadership, the numbers are not as impressive. Whether comparing national, state, or local leadership, statistics show that women continue to lag seriously in comparison to men.
96 years with the right to vote, 50-plus years following the Women’s Movement, we still struggle in numbers of gender balance when it comes to roles of public leadership. Why is this? The answers seem to be complex and intriguing.
As a means to begin a deliberate and meaningful conversation on the topic, the idea formed to develop an event designed to discuss this very question, and to begin building a base.
In honor of the certification anniversary, the Women’s Rural Leadership Development Forum was born! By creating an environment of discussion between experienced female leaders and audience members, the goal was to explore barriers and challenges with the intent to promote leadership.
The outcome? Exciting. Engaging. Dynamic. There just aren’t enough adjectives to describe the quality of the discussion held. Audience members had great questions, while panelists (and sometimes audience members themselves!) had insightful experiences and stories to share. The organic nature of the conversation was inspiring.
I’m so looking forward to assisting in the development of ongoing leadership opportunities, continued conversations, and future events where we can learn from one another. And, as we build the base of interested individuals, we can purposefully support and promote women to grow the number of women in public leadership.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to celebrate the Women’s Right to Vote – every time I vote – and hope you will, too!
District 20 Representative
Check out www.womenleadnd.com for more information, photos and resources.