Globally, there has been progress in terms of increasing the number of women in politics. But the figure is still only 23.3%, well below 50%. According to data from Inter Parliamentary Union, women’s representation in Parliament in Europe: 26.5%, Asia 19.4%, and Arab States: 17.4%. So how about in the US? Coming from Myanmar where there is 12.8% of women in parliament, I’m very much interested about women’s political participation in the US. In the US, Women hold seats in the United States Congress, comprising 19.6% of the 535 members105 (78D, 27R); 21 women (21%) serve in the United States Senate, and 84 women (19.3%) serve in the United States House of Representatives.
In this context, I’m very happy to be placed in Frankfort Kentucky to learn women’s political participation aspect. Kentucky’s 50.8% of population are women. Kentucky enjoys its glory in terms of women’s political leadership.
Meeting with these amazing leaders is really fascinating and inspiring. At the Women Leading Kentucky Luncheon, I got a chance to speak to Martha Layne Collins, the first woman to hold the office and the only one to date in Kentucky. She was elected as the state’s 56th governor from 1983 to 1987. Remarkable words by Martha are : women’s political leadership is achievable despite several challenges and barriers: women can be very efficient and capable leaders: women need to be politically motivated to empower herself and her community; being a woman’s leader, you can bring diverse perspectives which are usually neglected by male leaders.
In a cozy coffee shop of Historic Downtown, we met Amy Mcgrath, a retired fighter pilot, who is running for Congress. As a Marine combat veteran, she said she knows how to focus on the mission servicing all Americans. Amy said, “we must have leaders who have more experience in actually serving the people rather than serving themselves, their party and the special interests. We must have citizen-leaders of courage, who look at public office as a service, not as a prize to be won or a stepping-stone to personal wealth. We need leaders who are brave enough to tell people the truth, instead of misleading them into thinking that a quick fix is right around the corner”. Very inspiring determined woman leader and I want to see her as a Congresswoman. Well, well, well, one more reason to stay tuned with US upcoming election 2020!
On a very fine Friday at the Capitol building, we met another wonderful woman leader named Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Secretary of State of Kentucky. She is Kentucky’s 76th Secretary of State and youngest Secretary of State in the country. Her lifelong passion is to give a voice to the voiceless. Before beginning her career in public service, Secretary Grimes provided free legal help to victims of domestic violence. She has made many changes to Kentucky in political, social and economic arenas. For example, She implemented online voter registration for every Kentuckian and has ushered in historic new laws that protect the voting rights of victims of domestic violence and absentee voters. She is very outspoken and impressive with her work. Some of her key words are connection, network, voice and citizen’s participation. She really encourages women’s political leadership and I’ll always remember her in my heart with the song she sang to motivate us, “Anything you can do, I can do better”.
Kentucky doesn’t have only these three amazing women. These three women are only for giving you some examples. And Frankfort, the capital of Kentucky is filled with women’s leaders across the board; 2 women city commissioners, the very first woman city manager, the very first Judiciary Judge, the Executive Directors of Downtown Frankfort, Frankfort Economic Development and Tourism Frankfort. There are many outstanding women contributing to their society in every possible through their leadership on domestic violence initiatives, women’s shelters and homeless shelters. Very fascinating!
Staying and living in Frankfort with these amazing women is rewarding. Each and everyday is inspiring with their ideas, challenges, contributions and the changes they’ve made. Through their life stories, there are so many things I learn and get inspirations to promote women’s leadership in my country. Women’s participation is all about the ‘legal’ case, the ‘fairness’ case, the ‘economic’ case and the ‘impact’ case for our society.
Well, women’s leadership is the right thing to do, the smart thing to do and promoting women’s leadership is each and everyone responsibility.