DENTON – The United States has come a long way with more women – or more specifically, women of color – holding political office on the local, state and national levels.
Nearly 50 years ago, Shirley Chisholm served as the first African-American woman in Congress. Now 50 years later, during this past midterm election, more women of color – and women in general – were elected into Congress than ever before.
One UNT organization is actively helping to keep that record going on not only the national level, but also the local and state levels of government.
Deana Ayers is the Vice President of UNT’s Ignite – a non-partisan, national organization that advocates for more women to hold political office.
“It is so important to get women of color and just women in general elected on a city and state-level, because there's so much more work that you can do,” Ayers said.
“That’s decisions you’re making, policy you’re putting into place to make sure we can’t discriminate against people and anything else. There’s so much power that you hold when you're in a state office. Maybe you can’t change the entire nation, but you can make strides forward in your home state or your home city that you wouldn't necessarily be able to push the whole country forward at one time.”
According to the Center for American Women and Politics, 37 percent of women currently serving in the 116th Congress, are women of color. And as far as overall representation, women of color make up 8.8 percent of Congress’s 535 members.
For Ignite's next meeting, they will be discussing what minority women have been done in terms of politics.
"It's really important that we understand kind of where they've taken us and how far we can go, and how we can help other women that have the same experiences as us, and make sure that they're the people who are running for office," Ayers said.
Not only is Ayers supporting other women to run for political office, she also plans on doing so as well.
"I do plan to run for political office when I go back to my hometown of Arlington, Texas eventually ... so be on the look-out for that."