Since 2006, 14 Valentines has striven to both celebrate how far women have come, and to increase awareness for how far we still have to go for full equality, autonomy, and inclusion.
In my first ever Political Science course, my professor said that Political Science is the study of power—who has it, and how they exercise it.
That’s a sobering thought if you’re a woman. Women make up more than half of the world’s population. But, in the United States, women have only had the right to vote since 1920. Worldwide, women hold a staggeringly low percentage of high office political seats.
Which begs the question: how can we expect power to be exercised on our behalf in a manner that we need if we aren’t the ones with the power?
The answer is that we can’t. Not fully. Those in power act in a manner to protect their own interests and privileges. In the United States, that can mean the erosion of women’s reproductive rights. Elsewhere, it can mean the legal murder of women by husbands. The situation becomes even more bleak when you consider intersectionality, and how women of color, queer women and trans women have less visibility, less political consideration and protection, and less (if any) political representation.
What I found most interesting about the lack of women in political positions is that women are most often activists for change, from the local to the global scale. We initiate and instigate policy and social changes, yet are absent from holding political power.
Often, this absence—especially in high level positions—is due to public resistance to women in political positions of power. Other times, it is because women avoid running for political positions.
The Rutgers Center for American Women in Politics has an entire section devoted to women in local level of offices, positions of power on small scale that can lead to greater presence and representation on the large, higher scale.