Panel promotes women in politics

Women from different segments of government and education united to address the lack of women involved in politics for the Oxygen cable network’s national Tank Tour Wednesday.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), Director of Government Affairs Department of the American Association of University Women Nancy Zirkin and President of the Center for Women in Policy Studies Leslie R. Wolfe served as panelists for the event. Diane Rehm from WAMU 88.5 FM was the moderator for the panel.

Oxygen will first air on cable television in February 2000.

The panel addressed the need for more women to become involved in the political process. All three panelists agreed the best way for women to get their issues addressed in the political arena was to get out and vote for people who were ready to fight for women’s issues.

It is therefore essential that women vote, Zirkin said.

They can only make a difference by participating in the political process, Wolfe said. Being in public service is perhaps the highest calling that any of us could aspire to.

Woolsey said if women become more involved, politics will become gentler.

The panel discussed former presidential candidate Elizabeth Dole and her withdrawal from the campaign. The panelists agreed that women who want to run for office face obstacles. They said a female candidate had to be more qualified than a male candidate because a woman often gets less campaign funding.

It is very difficult to raise money when you are running as a female candidate, Woolsey said.

The absolute truth of the matter is that women don’t have as much money, Zirken said.

Wolfe said she thinks Dole faced classic sexism.

Another issue that the panel addressed was media involvement in women’s issues. The panel agreed that despite the increase in the number of women in the media, women’s issues are still not covered adequately.

Woolsey said the press is not interested in women’s issues because they are more interested in covering stories that deal with war, guns and controversy.

The panel also discussed the problems that come with being a woman in a position of power. Woolsey gave an example of a time when she was treated badly in a congressional committee hearing because she was a woman. Senator Jesse Helms asked her to sit down and act like a lady, she said.

Freshman Yasmin Hamidi said she enjoyed seeing three strong women who were deeply involved in politics.

Overall I think it was very beneficial, she said. I’m glad I came.

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