By Jenny Engle, LWV Lancaster member and former member, LWVPA Board
If you think outside the box, opportunities abound for the League to reach out to educate and inspire women of all ages to become more civically involved. Jenny Engle, a Lancaster County League member and owner of a green plus certified marketing and communications firm, serves on the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce Women in Business Mentoring Program Advisory Council. When the group wanted to plan a program on civic engagement for area high school juniors and their professional mentors, Jenny immediately suggested the League.
After an initial meeting with the Chamber to discuss parameters, Jenny and fellow League members Leslie Laird and Susan Leinberger (all three are former or current educators) developed a simple, interactive and inspiring 60-minute program that appealed to both the diverse group of students and their mentors.
Focusing on women’s underrepresentation in not only the federal House and Senate, but also in Pennsylvania’s legislature, the program involved participants in discussions highlighting the talents and characteristics they thought necessary in elected representatives. It turned out that many of these qualities were strengths the girls and their mentors believed they possessed and excelled in.
If the women attending did not already realize it, they learned that although women are equally qualified to serve, we are woefully underrepresented in our governments. In fact, although we make up 51% of the population, we hold only a 19% representation in federal elected positions. Red, white and blue balloons displaying this figure were widely displayed around the room. The League leaders asked each table to discuss what they would like that number to be and what each one of us can do to increase it. Using colored markers, the groups crossed out the 19% and shared the new figures.
We also discussed how to register to vote, the importance of informed voting and what the League does locally, statewide and nationally. During the q and a session, League leaders also were able to share League website urls, as well as those of other sites that offer credible, accurate and unbiased information on issues of importance to the attendees.
Lancaster League members have received very positive feedback on this program and now have plans to “take it on the road.” They also are pleased to see that membership inquiries are coming in!