Adviser to President Bill Clinton Ann Lewis told students at GW’s Mount Vernon campus Monday that women need to get more involved in political issues.
Women are not stepping forward and saying `We’re not going to take this anymore,’ Lewis said.
Lewis spoke at an event sponsored by Mount Vernon campus Executive Dean Grae Baxter and the Women and Power Leadership programs.
As an adviser to Clinton, Lewis handles special events and was able to create programs such as the 11-member Commission on Women’s History and the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, which will be featured at Mount Vernon campus.
Lewis touched on many aspects of the hurdles facing women today, including issues of self-esteem, political policy and political principles. Lewis defined the largest hurdles as economic, especially in terms of women’s access to capital.
Lewis said if we understood how much is at stake, women would get more involved in empowerment.
Lewis’ main message was a call for involvement by the young women. Freshman Lauren Sinsheimer said she was impressed.
I was really inspired by her speech and about getting involved. to go do something instead of just saying `I’m in favor of it,’ she said.
Lewis defined leadership as getting people to move in your direction, to move in the direction you think they should move in.
Lewis identified herself as a feminist, and one student asked her what she thought about the stigma surrounding the word.
I care less what label people think they’re for than the principles, she said. The title is less important than what they’re willing to do with it.
Lewis said the environment of the Mount Vernon campus is an asset to its students.
One way you build your self-esteem is to spend time around women, make a conscious decision to value ourselves and each other. Through campuses like this women can come together and compare notes, she said.
To take control of leadership, Lewis advised her audience to focus on studies but also to find a project on which to focus.
Do look for the way you can give back, Lewis said. Do look for the way you can make a difference.
Lewis said she continues to spend much of her time on a variety of projects.
I’m doing things I never thought were possible when I was your age, but there’s a lot more I’m trying to do, she said.
To underline Lewis’s message, Assistant Professor of History Allida Black ended the session with the last words Eleanor Roosevelt wrote before her death: Staying aloof is not a solution, it’s a cowardly evasion, she said.