Elect Her Campaign Empowers Central Women To Be Leaders

Isabella Chan, Assistant News Editor

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In an effort to empower and support women, the Ruthe Boyea Women’s Center hosted Running Start’s “Elect Her” campaign, a one-day workshop that trains college women to run for student government and political office.

Throughout the Friday event, participants worked together on activities that build professional skills, such as leadership development, networking and public speaking. A number of guest speakers with political backgrounds also provided words of encouragement and advice.

Guest speakers at the program included Central Connecticut President Dr. Zulma Toro, Connecticut Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, CCSU Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Michael Jasek, 2018 Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor Eva Bermudez Zimmerman and six female members of the CCSU Student Government Association. 

In her opening speech, Dr. Toro emphasized the importance of pushing women’s representation in political offices forward, specifically by supporting one another and breaking the glass ceiling.

“It is important to remember that women’s voices in the political arena are vastly underrepresented. This year, a record number of women were elected into Congress and yet that number represents only 24 percent of its entire membership. Let us continue [to further] this trend by encouraging responsible leadership among women as early as possible,” Dr. Toro stated.

Through Elect Her, Central women are able to do just that. In the workshops, participants were able to strengthen their abilities and learn skills that may be used in their future campaigns.

Facilitator Jessica Kelly, program director of Running Start, created many opportunities for leadership development and public speaking skills through open discussions. The primary focus of the talk was on the participants’ thoughts on women in politics- the main subject being why women are often underrepresented in politics and not running for office.

One point made by Armando Osorio, sophomore and SGA Senator, suggested it is partially due to women being held to different standards than men, especially those that are mothers.

“There is so much pressure to not only be a good candidate, but to be viewed by candidates as a good woman and good mom,” Osorio stated. “A lot of women are pressured out of running and out of the workforce because of their family life and idea that being a mother comes first. We have to focus on reassuring and validating women’s careers.”

Many of the speakers touched upon the importance of supporting one another. Zimmerman shared her experiences on how much having the right support assisted her in the 2018 Gubernatorial Election.

With the help of her community, friends and family, Zimmerman was able to raise $89,000 in two months for her running campaign for lieutenant governor.

“When you’re a candidate, you need money, you need voters and you need people who believe in you,” Zimmerman stated. “I went from literally a no one that no one knew [and] wasn’t taken seriously, was told I was too young or too brown or too female and made it in with 40 percent in a very short window [of time].”

Jasek also encouraged the participants to push past their “roadblocks” and continue to pursue their dreams.

“We have a long way to go with equality, [especially] with women’s equality. But we’ve seen in the House of Representatives a strong group of women, young women, rocking the boat,” Jasek said.