When I was a kid I did not even know that the first woman of color elected in the U.S. Congress was also one of the first Asian Americans to run for President, Patsy Mink (pictured, right). By Erin Pangilinan (Co-Founder, Lead Her Forward)
My 10-year-old niece ran for student body president last year and won. It reminded me of wins and losses on campaigns the past four years, the Obama campaign, and my first election in sixth grade.
Many students lack a strong educational foundation in government at an early age. This still remains true despite the fact that 2012 represented a landmark year in electing a large number of women elected into Congress. Many Americans may still know even less about women leaders in elected office [aside from political junkies inside the Beltway (Washington D.C.)].
Last year, the White House launched the Equal Futures App Challenge, which sought to engage women and young girls in public policy, educate the public about the gender gap, and ultimately develop women leadership.
I along with my friend, Mia Jamili, created an educational civic app called Lead Her Forward, that young girls (ages ranging all through college) could use to learn about women leaders and help increase their participation in public service. We also wanted a supplemental tool that fused together various curriculum, from U.S. Government & History, Ethnic Studies, Political Science, and Gender and Women’s Studies.
In designing our app, we took a plethora of information on the U.S. House of Representatives History, Art, and Archives of Women in Congress and created a bite-sized timeline featuring select profiles of women leaders in the U.S. that have changed the American landscape. Profiles span from women across the spectrum: elected officials like former Secretary of State and U.S. Senator of New York, Hillary Clinton, leaders of social movements like Rosa Parks and Dolores Huerta, and military service heroes like Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.
We recognized that women pioneers of various backgrounds had unique stories of challenges that they had to overcome in order to move forward. Thus, each leader profile showcases their pathway to leadership and ways to connect with current leaders via their official websites and social media.
We have also included components such as “Share the Story” and “Take the Lead!” in our app to encourage young women and girls to speak up, share lessons they have learned from leaders’ stories, and show how they want to lead in their own communities.
Lead Her Forward serves a simple purpose - utilizing technology to inspire young women and girls to realize their potential and ability to create the change they want in the world. By learning and sharing lessons of past women pioneers, they can relate to real women who had overcome adversity during early points of lives.
We must remove the barriers girls face in developing confidence to actively voice their opinions and have the courage to make bold decisions if we want to empower the future generation of trailblazers.
Women have reached many milestones advancing equality in the past and still have endless possibilities to lead our country forward. Our app is one of many more initiatives of women in technology to make representation of women in political spaces more equal, to convey the value of women’s participation from the classroom to the workplace, and to ultimately create a more equal future for all.
Women 2.0 readers: Did you create an entry for the Equal Futures App Challenge as well? Let us know in the comments!
About the guest blogger: Erin Pangilinan is a co-founder of Lead Her Forward, an interactive timeline that features profiles of women leaders in the U.S. Join us in our hopes to move our country forward, so that women everywhere will have equal economic equity and political participation. Follow her on Twitter at @erinjerri.