My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Public Leadership Education Network PLEN, Washington, DC, USA
The US currently ranks #84th in the world in terms of gender parity in government (Inter-Parlimentary Union 2014). Politics, a space of formal power and authority, needs to also be a space where women have a legitimate voice in how decisions are made that affect their lives. Very few organizations aim at providing women access to government so that they can see themselves in these positions of power. PLEN, the Public Leadership Education Network, is one of the most critical organizations that helps college-aged female students see themselves in positions of political leadership.
As a PLEN Coordinator at Douglass College for Women, Rutgers University for four years, I heard numerous stories from students who said that this was one of the best experiences of their collegiate life. PLEN shows women that they can work in Washington DC and make powerful decisions. The PLEN programs provide access to women in positions of power that these college students would not otherwise have. Students that attended the PLEN programs still write to me how amazing it was for them to meet these women, such as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg or US Senator Lisa Murkowski.
Considering that the lack of women's political ambition is one of the root causes of why women are not running for elected office, and that this begins at an early age for women (Lawless and Fox 2013), it is critically important that PLEN continues to not only offer the vital programs for college-aged women students to visit DC from around the country, but also that PLEN expands to reach more students and provide more scholarships for students that need them.
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
Add a Women and Politics academic curriculum so that students could receive partial credit at their home universities. Since many Political Science Departments do not even offer Women and Politics courses, this may be the one opportunity for these young minds to be exposed to this important material.
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