Before last weekend, I had never imagined a setting where one could picture saying “it’s a woman’s world.” While it’s still a stretch to declare women rule the world, after attending the SouthEast Michigan Debate Boot Camp on May 16, I am optimistic about the future – and the present – for women in the political pipeline.
The Camp atmosphere was filled with an immense communal drive to enhance, educate and support the goals and platforms of each participant. It was universal support regardless of race, age, political party, socioeconomic status or geographic region, each participant gave her full energy and attention to helping the rest of the group build their speaking and debate skills. That in itself was an inspiring and humbling experience: there sat over 20 women with different ideas, different opinions and different ways of looking at situations and yet they lacked the hostile or reserved attitude that often enters a political conversation among ideological opposites. Instead, what I witnessed was women helping women.
In my first week as an intern, it was a privilege to attend SouthEast Michigan Debate Boot Camp. As a 19-year-old, it was particularly inspiring to talk with the younger participants those women in their 20’s who are currently running for an elected office. These women helped me understand the many ways our generation can use our flair and confidence to gain more political leverage and impact our communities. As participant Kristyn Taylor said, “We’re not afraid to say we don’t know and learn something new.” Stephanie Gilmore added, “I ask myself what I can bring to the table. I’m a good listener and I hear concerns. I’m able to communicate with youth that don’t think they have a voice. I think younger people wait because they’re not interested in politics until they see younger people involved in it.” I was not the only one who remarked on the contributions of the several young minds at Camp. Participant Yvette McElroy pointed out to the whole group that she is “impressed by these young women. Our future will be in good hands. You’re sharp. You’re on the ball. I really enjoy young people, so thank you for that.”
After attending SouthEast Michigan Debate Boot Camp, I know the successes women political leaders are capable of accomplishing when they support each other. As fellow Camper Anne Doyle said, “We are on the verge of something big here. There is a tremendous tide of sisterhood that moves us forward. The White House Project is a real example of that. We have a huge responsibility to lift ourselves together. I’m thrilled by what happened here today.” I am proud to be a part of this powerful tide.
This article was written by Marissa Fellows, Michigan Intern at The White House Project. If you would like to suggest a topic for our Great Lakes Regional e-newsletter, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.