From Harvard Square to the Oval Office

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For every one of the past 12 years since I have graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School, I have had the honor of speaking to students in the From Harvard Square to the Oval Office a non-partisan initiative of the Women in Public Policy Program. The program provides Harvard graduate students with the training and support to prepare them to run for office at the local, state, and national levels in the U.S. and around the world. 

Having more women in government makes a difference. Women in public office are more likely to advocate and co-sponsor legislation related to childcare and women’s health regardless of ideology. Electing women to office, particularly statewide, also appears to be a powerful motivator for other women to run for office. And, perhaps even more important is the effect women in elected office can have on young girls. Little girls needs to see strong women leaders as role models in order to picture themselves as leaders of the future.

Despite what can be accomplished with women in office we know that even though the need is there, we often don’t see enough women running for office. Women don't get approached enough to run, many of us worry about whether we could possibly fundraise enough, and then there are the expectations to juggle being a mom to young children while running for office. These are real challenges, but as my story demonstrates they are surmountable challenges. 

We women owe it to future generations of women to try a hand at putting many more cracks in the political glass ceiling. When Barbara Mikulski arrived in the US Senate in 1986 there wasn’t even a women’s bathroom, but that didn’t stop her because she knew that we needed her and women like her to inspire us to dream of a world where little girls expect their leaders to be women.