By Aaron Mason
Women account for more than half of the U.S. population according to the most recent U.S. Census data. Currently there are 20 women serving in the U.S. Senate, a governing body of 100. There are 79 women serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, a governing body of 435. That is 99 women serving between both the House and Senate, with a total of 535 seats filled by men. This discrepancy of representative seats held between men and women at the federal level has caught the attention of many politically motivated women, especially Brookhaven College student Sandy Gonzalez. Gonzalez said: “With women accounting for over half of the U.S. population, why is it that women hold less than 20 percent of representation in both the House and Senate?” Gonzalez said she was not aware of this issue until she attended her first IGNITE event. Being exposed to IGNITE led her to become active in making young women aware of the lack of representation of women’s issues in politics. Gonzalez has recently started her own IGNITE chapter at Brookhaven.
IGNITE is an advocacy group based in California that aims to empower young women to involve themselves in leadership positions, both in politics and the private sector. One of the main voices of IGNITE is Aja Brown. Brown is the mayor of Compton, California. “I think it is imperative to be able to have organizations like IGNITE to introduce politics as a viable career path for young women,” Brown said. The main platform for the advocacy group is equal representation in government. IGNITE’s mission statement is: “By being an active member for IGNITE at Brookhaven, you will be informed on the issues that impact women, receive updates about events geared towards leadership development and community outreach, and meet other college women to help and support you.” Gonzalez recruited government professor Asmara Saleemi to sponsor the IGNITE Brookhaven chapter.
Saleemi said: “I love to see an organization like this at Brookhaven because this didn’t exist when I was going to school. This is a great opportunity for young women on campus to have exposure to civic engagement and female leaders, not just in politics but fields where women are underrepresented.” IGNITE is in its first year at Brookhaven, and building membership is the current focus. IGNITE currently has 27 members, but Gonzalez said she is currently reaching students who requested more information about IGNITE. The group will host an event at Brookhaven Sept. 8. The location was undetermined as of press deadlines. The event will serve as an opportunity for IGNITE to show their its presence on campus. Gonzalez said all female Brookhaven students should attend. The meeting will be an open forum, allowing students to learn about IGNITE and voice their opinions and expectations about the organization. IGNITE has a page on eCampus that will serve as an outreach platform for the school. From eCampus, people can also access IGNITE’s Twitter and Facebook page. Students can find further details pertaining to the Sept. 8 meeting on the eCampus page.