The California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, with the California Secretary of State and California Women Lead, held a panel discussion on the importance of empowering women to vote on issues that affect them.
The Oct. 15 on Facebook Live event, “Your Vote is Your Voice: What’s In It For Women?” was moderated by LaKenya Jordan, executive director of California’s Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, with panelists Tamara Raspberry, assistant deputy Secretary of State; Margita Thompson, board member of California Women Lead; and Alisha Wilkins, chairwoman of the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.
Raspberry told the audience that there are many things at stake in the Nov. 3 election that not only affect women but their families as well.
“We are the backbones of our communities so everything is on the line not only for us but for our children and families,” Raspberry said. “Voting is a form of activism for women.”
“There are so many facets to our lives and there isn’t just one way women are going to vote,” Thompson added. “When you look at women’s and men’s issues they’re not necessarily different, but we are affected differently, such as in job opportunities.”
Wilkins, who is also a business owner, focused on how the upcoming election could impact women-run businesses.
“I’ve seen firsthand two women running businesses (which) had to close their doors this year due to COVID,” Wilkins said. “We’re talking about a loss of income to purchase a new home, send kids to a new school, etc. Many women bootstrap their businesses.”
Jordan asked the panelists about the increased civic engagement this year and how civil unrest has impacted elections this year.
Thompson said she is thrilled to see the progress among the younger generations in this area.
“My generation (accepted) the status quo,” Thompson said. “But this younger generation is taking initiative and (they) aren’t scared to go against traditional views.”
Raspberry spoke about her experience mentoring students at Oakland Tech High School and how they took on a project to create meaningful posters.
“These students chose… some big real world issues like homelessness, environmental awareness and police brutality,” Raspberry said. “I can’t wait for these kids to run for office someday.”
The discussion also covered becoming allies with other women, and the importance of women candidates in elections.
Thompson said she uses social media platforms like LinkedIn to network with other women in businesses.
“I engage with many groups that support Latina women, especially in the realm of business, and connect with women both within and outside of my company,” Thompson said.
Wilkins said she has observed women in leadership positions across the board and has seen them lift up companies and organizations.
As the discussion neared its end, Raspberry offered some pieces of advice for women who are looking to call other women to a discussion or an organization.
“A friend once told me if they don’t have a seat for you at a table, bring your own chair,” Raspberry said. “This movement is happening and we know who we can count on, and that is on each other.”
The panel discussion can be viewed on YouTube.
Alondra Campos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.