The Youngest Congresswoman Ever Explains Why We Need More Female Leaders
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik is not your typical Millennial. At the age of 31, she's already a member of Congress, where the average age is 60.
She's also the youngest woman ever elected to Congress in US history.
On Monday, Congresswoman Stefanik took some time to speak with Elite Daily about what it's like being a Millennial in Congress, the need for more female representation in American politics and Women's History Month.
It might sound odd that such a young female succeeded in getting elected to a legislature historically dominated by old white men.
We asked the congresswoman whether she ever felt as though her age and gender served as an obstacle when she was running for office. According to her, it actually proved to be a great strength,
Indeed, it seems what Americans truly desire right now are leaders who embody a break from tradition and exhibit a level of authenticity that has seemingly been missing from Washington in recent years.
Still, it's extremely impressive what Congresswoman Stefanik has been able to accomplish, but she remains very modest about it.
In her view, being the youngest female member of Congress in US history is not just an honor, it's a tremendous responsibility. She said,
The congresswoman is not just concerned with setting an example for young women, she's also extremely focused on helping her generation progress and is the Chair of the Millennial Task Force.
In her opinion, Millennials are already beginning to shape the destiny of the US, and they must be included in any discussions surrounding its economic and political future:
The congresswoman believes it's crucial politicians make a more concerted effort to connect with Millennials in order to increase levels of political engagement, and she's already working to set an example by utilizing social media in new ways.
She posts all of her votes to Facebook, frequently engages with Millennials on various platforms and publicly posts her official schedule. This kind of transparency is definitely something that can help establish the level of trust needed to persuade more Millennials to participate in politics.
It's no secret voter turnout for Millennials in recent elections has been extremely low, if not embarrassing.
During the 2014 midterms, for example, Millennials only accounted for around 13 percent of the electorate, yet they make up the largest voting demographic in the nation. There are concerns this trend will continue into the 2016 election.
This generation clearly has the potential to dictate the course of America and its politics, but it's not taking advantage of this.
Millennials like Congresswoman Stefanik, however, are definitely setting a strong example for what the future of this generation's involvement in the political process could look like.
Congresswoman Stefanik has also dedicated herself to increasing female political engagement, given the US has a lot of room for improvement in this arena.
Placing things into a historical context, the congresswoman stated,
America clearly has a lot of work to do in terms of establishing a government that is truly representative of its population, and many other countries around the world are far ahead of it in that regard.
To put this into perspective, data from the World Bank shows even Afghanistan has a higher percentage of females in its legislature than America (around 28 percent). Simply put, even in countries where women's rights are repressed in profound ways, there are higher levels of female political representation than in the US.
Moreover, as Congresswoman Stefanik highlighted, we could greatly benefit from more female representation in government in myriad ways,
Women's History Month serves as a perfect time to come together as a nation and remind ourselves of the work we still have to do in terms of promoting gender equality, particularly in terms of female leadership. As the congresswoman put it,
March 8 is International Women's Day -- use it as an occasion to celebrate the women who've positively impacted your life and an opportunity to promote the importance of expanding gender equality.