The Alliance for Women Guest Column

It Matters How Many Women are in Political Office
– by Rep. Rita Allison, member of the SC House of Representatives, District 36

Do you know what 156 million stands for? Actually that is the number of women in the United States… some 4 million more than men. Over 50% of the voting population in the United States is comprised of women. And the same applies in South Carolina; over 50% of the registered voters in South Carolina are women.

South Carolina women suffer from lack of political clout and as a result, it matters how many women are in political office. It matters because more women are small business owners today than ever, or educating themselves for corporate South Carolina and because women tend to have different political concerns from those of men, while dealing in all concerns of society.

Research shows that women tend to be more concerned about education, healthcare and reproductive rights than men. Women support financing for social services and child care at higher rates than men… and just how much it matters in our daily lives, in our businesses and in our future was recently brought home in the “Status of Women in South Carolina.”

There are no South Carolina women in Congress, where decisions are made for federal funding into the states for education, roads, economic development, social services and etc. We have a state legislature less than 10% female compared to the national average of 22%. No woman is an island…. what’s the matter, heard that before? Well never mind… it is still true today!

Remember here are the things we all strive for and what we look for in other people we would hire, promote, people who will achieve much over their lifetime and people we need to lead us in elected office…. to be role models and to change our South Carolina for the better. As women leaders we have to:

  • Be willing to pay the price. Today’s preparation determines tomorrow’s achievements. No one has cornered the market on family and career success. Anyone who walks into the store and pays the price can walk away with it. We have to be willing to make family and career work.
  • Be willing to be self-disciplined, whether it is gluing a plane together or researching marketing trends in retail clothing, we have to follow through to mark success. Self-discipline is simply control and if we do not control ourselves, someone else will control us.
  • Be willing to set our goals. That is not the same as being self-disciplined. Discipline is setting your clock to get up at 5 am. But goal-setting is knowing why you are getting up at 5 am.
  • Be willing to learn to get along with others. The third cause of losing a job, a debate or an ally is not getting along with others.
  • Be willing to dream…… even though we have made great discoveries and solved so many problems…. there is still hunger, are still uneducated people, abused children and so many other problems to find solutions to and discoveries to be made.
  • Be willing to stay informed and be a life long learner…. when we stop learning, we stop growing, and when we stop growing, we are finished.
  • Be willing to take risks and don’t be afraid to fail. If we are to have more women leaders, more women have to step up to the plate for the game.
  • Be ethical, because what we once knew to be right and wrong….. is still right and wrong. Don’t make it harder for those coming behind you by staining the image.
  • Be willing to have some fun. The truth is if you are passionate about what you are doing, you’ll never have to work a day.
  • Be willing to define success in your own terms. There are many people who spend their lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, when they reach the top, the ladder is leaning against the wrong building.

As women leaders and as women who strive to be leaders, we must plan to win. We must have a winning attitude. We must keep improving, and we must make the people around us more successful. As Charlie Brower says, “Few people are successful unless a lot of other people want them to be.”

Walt Disney said: “If you can dream it, you can do it. Never lose sight of the fact that this whole thing was started by a mouse.”

So dare to dream. Have the desire to do something bigger than yourself.
Prepare the dream. Do your homework and be ready when the opportunity comes.
Wear the dream. Do it!!!
Share the dream. Make others a part of the dream and it will become even greater than you had hoped….