We Should Start Young Women’s Path to Politics in the Classroom
By Natalie Caraballo
While I was in high school, I wasn’t confident enough to lead. I knew I could be a great leader, but I just couldn’t seem to step up and do it. Looking back, I wish my teachers had the tools to support and help develop young leaders. I wish somebody had told me that I belong at the table where the decisions are being made. I wish somebody had told me that I, too, look like a politician.
Last month I was invited to participate at an International Congress of Education in Argentina. During the conference, I talked to over 1,000 teachers and students about the work that we do at Running Start to empower young women and bring them to politics.
I was amazed by the interest students and teachers showed for the topic. Both young women and men asked me about feminism, women’s empowerment, and how they can start their political aspirations. Teachers were eager to know how they can help young women in their classroom to develop their leadership skills. The teachers that I talked to truly believe in the capabilities of the young women they teach, and most importantly, they know women belong where the decisions are being made.
One of the teachers told me “as a father of four daughters, I felt every single statement that you made. I want my daughters to know they can lead in politics and I want to see them fully empowered.”
I left Argentina convinced (again) that young women are hungry for political training and their teachers agree that it’s vital.
And that’s why Running Start wants to make sure our young women’s path to politics starts in the classroom. Through our core program, Elect Her, we provide college women with the tools that they need to run for student government and win. 90% of Elect Her alums who ran for student government won their races. Moreover, preliminary data from our ongoing survey of women state legislators suggests that 50% started their political aspirations while serving in student government.
We know our trainings are highly effective, and our young women deserve political empowerment at earlier stages. If you would like to bring Elect Her to your school, get in touch and we will make it happen.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Natalie Caraballo earned a double major in Public Relations and Political Science at the University of Puerto Rico. In 2016 she moved to DC to intern for Senator Harry Reid. She then joined the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, serving as an organizer in Alexandria, Virginia. Natalie strongly believes that women need and deserve stronger political empowerment at earlier stages in their lives, which is why she joined the Running Start team as the Operations Assistant.
Currently, Natalie volunteers for two Puerto Rican diaspora organizations, aiming to empower civil society in Puerto Rico. In her free time, she likes to learn German and discover new cities around the United States and the world.