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Being Political Without Being in Office

March 21, 2012 | Sarah

Today on Huffington Post, Sabrina Schaeffer, the Exectuive Director of the Independent’s Women Forum (IWF), wrote about women in politics. This may seem like well worn territory, but Schaeffer takes an interesting stand. Instead of bemoaning the lack of women in the office and claiming sexism, Schaeffer acknowledges the very real pressures that come with public office: things like events, fundraising, travel, etc. These are important aspects to consider when running for office, and many women do not want to trade in their current careers and family for these pressures.

Schaeffer then goes further: running for office is only one way of many to be involved in politics. An elected position is not all that matters; the principles behind politics do as well. And in matters relating to these principles, women are very involved. As Schaeffer writes:

Female columnists and writers abound in print and online, offering insight and analysis about political values and trends. Women are over-represented throughout the state think tank system, which directly affects policy at the state level. And, the Tea Party — presumably the most important political movement in decades — is organized and run overwhelmingly by women.

Schaeffer also mentions the Network of enlightened Women (NeW) by name as another way women are contributing outside of public office.

Sabrina Schaeffer concludes with the following points on gender differences:

The fact is there are all sorts of ways people can affect the political process. But men and women are different — we share different talents, aptitudes and interests. And if women are more inclined toward organizing bodies on the ground or writing about the implications of policy, why not embrace these strengths, rather than undermine them?

Gender equality means equal opportunities for all; but gender equality does not require gender parity. To wish for that is to ignore the very strengths that make women different.

This is a great article that sums up nicely the mission and principles that are important to both IWF and NeW. How are you involved with the political process?

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