Everywhere I go, I meet women and girls who are passionate about politics. Maybe you’re one of them – you obsess over policy issues; you have your senators’ phone numbers memorized. Or maybe you’ve never been all that interested in politics before, but you watch the news these days and think, “I need to do more.”
To any woman who has ever asked, “How can I have an impact?,” consider this: Run for office.
There are plenty of reasons why we need more women in office. That’s true whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent. One of my favorite parts of being a U.S. senator was working with my women colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Studies show that women are particularly good at bipartisanship and building consensus. We’re also more likely to champion policies that benefit women and children. And in Congress, women introduce more legislation than their male counterparts. It’s like the saying goes: “If you want something done, ask a busy woman to do it.”
Despite all the evidence that having more women in office is good for everyone, as well as our democracy, women are still less likely to run for office than men – even though when we do run, we’re just as likely to win.
I can’t blame any woman who has doubts about facing the sexism and double standard that comes with seeking elected office. Many of us are also our own harshest critic – we mull over our shortcomings, list the reasons why we’re not qualified, and think about all the people who should run instead. That’s what I did the first time someone approached me about running for office. You know what? I got over it, and so can you. (Shameless plug: You can read more about how I made that momentous decision in my new book, What Happened.)
Yes, being a woman in politics can be tough and disappointing. But it’s also deeply rewarding. Imagine getting to wake up every day and fight for issues you care about – issues that might otherwise go ignored. As satisfying as it is to come across a tweet that perfectly sums up a problem like the jaw-dropping cost of childcare in America, it’s a lot more satisfying to get out there and fix the problem. And there is nothing better than meeting someone who tells you their life is better because of something you did.
I know this has been a tough year for a lot of us and for our country. Sometimes, our political landscape can feel pretty bleak. But on the hardest days, I draw hope and joy from all of the women I’ve met since the election who are determined to keep fighting for what they believe. In fact, according to groups like EMILY’s List, EMERGE America, and Run for Something, women are signing up for candidate training programs in record numbers since the election. That makes my heart sing.
The day after Election Day, I said that women and girls are “valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world.” I believe in that message more fiercely than ever. You are valuable and powerful. You are eminently qualified and capable. And I cannot wait to see how you use your unique gifts and skills to make your community, our country, and our world a better place.
You can do this,