Impact & Action: Seeing is Believing 

When nine-year old Claire approached the microphone and asked a panel of women leaders,

“What advice do you have for a [third grader] who wants to run for ASB President first and then President of the United States?”

the crowd couldn’t help but cheer. Claire was the first to step up with a question for our bi-partisan Political Gender Watch panel in Spokane, Washington.

She and her mom, Alison, joined us on the final stop of our Political Gender Watch Tour to hear from women in elected office, and learn what it will really take for Claire to achieve her dream— to run for student body president in 2018.

Whether running for ASB President, City Council or President of the United States – women face significant challenges on their way to public office. Our Political Gender Watch Tour was created to hear from women who have taken the plunge themselves and learn what it takes to overcome these challenges.

Women’s Funding Alliance and Debbie Walsh, director for the Center for American Women and Politics, partnered to bring the first ever Political Gender Watch Tour to Mount Vernon, Olympia and Spokane. We brought together women in local, state, tribal and federal government for candid, bi-partisan conversations about their experiences.

At each tour stop all of our panelists, from Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz to Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick, spoke honestly about being underestimated, reached around, and talked over.

They shared stories of finding their own bravery, collaborating across party lines, and how they manage serving their community and taking care at home.

Beyond tactical advice and stories of life in public office, our panelists inspired each community to consider their own paths to civic leadership.

Claire’s mom Alison was inspired hearing from moms with kids the same age as her own. Learning how they manage public and home life gave her hope that maybe should could do it too.

When we asked our Spokane panel – “What is one thing you hope everyone here will do to encourage women and girls to get involved in civic leadership?” - Spokane Tribal Business Council Chairwoman Carol Evans stood up and said, “Watch me.”

Chairwoman Evans walked over to Claire, held her cheeks and said, “You can do it. You are worthy. And I’m here to support you.”

While Claire still has plenty of time before she can run for President of the United States, she said that Chairwoman Evans’ advice inspires her to keep reaching for her dream.

“I want to run because I want to show kids that girls are just people that aren’t just going be in a corner. They should be the ones sharing their feelings and ideas. The ones helping others.”

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