This November marks one of the most historic elections. Ever. Not only did Hillary Clinton make history when she secured the win as the first female nominated by a major political party for President, but Millennials, the biggest and most diverse generation the United States has ever seen are primed to be a driving force at the polls. In 2008 and 2012, voters under 30 were a crucial piece of winning the presidential election. They stand to make the same impact this election year.
It's something that Rock the Vote, the non-profit, nonpartisan organization committed to galvanizing youth to vote has been encouraging since 1990.
It was 26 years ago when a bikini-clad Madonna motivated generation MTV to vote. Wrapped in an American flag and rapping about former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, she delivered the first PSA for Rock the Vote.
Today, according to Rock the Vote, the diversity of Millennials is not simply reflected in age, background, ability or race, but in the way Gen M approached problems, finds opportunities and envisions the future. 80 million strong, it is a generation that wants a better, more just future for all. Young women are a driving force behind that vision. According to RtV "anyone who ignores the importance of young women in this election, does so at their own peril."
In a poll released earlier this month with Rock the Vote's partner USA Today, they found that 73% of women between 18 and 34 strongly disagree with banning an entire religious group from entering to the United States. They've also found young women across the country who are engaged in issues that matter to them, like defending access to reproductive rights, reforming the criminal justice system, and securing equal pay.
Young women are poised to make a big difference in the world by voting for candidates who will elevate the issues they care about across every office, not just President. It's why Create & Cultivate has teamed up with Rock the Vote. From encouraging young women to register to talking about issues that matter most, we asked Rock the Vote President, Carolyn DeWitt about the importance of this election, the power of the vote, and a generation that's only getting stronger.
Why is it important for Rock the Vote to be at Create & Cultivate?
It’s so important for us because we know that young women are some of the most passionate and engaged people in this country. Young women are playing a more vocal role than ever before in their families, communities, politics, business and across every facet of American life. Create & Cultivate is a place for young women to come together and learn how to carve out a life for ourselves that makes us proud. At Rock the Vote, we know that participating in elections is also a way, one of the most important ways, that women can shape our futures.
What kind of galvanization have you seen from young women this election cycle?
Young women are getting louder about the issues we know affect our lives. From demanding equal pay for equal work, pushing back against sexism and defending our access to reproductive rights, this election cycle has been one where women are speaking truth to the powers that be. We may want different things, we may have different visions of where we want to be in life, but we are empowered to fight for it and we are only getting stronger.
What do you think a female POTUS would do for the future of our country?
This is a really big milestone for our country—one that has been long overdue. Across the globe, we currently have a record number of female world leaders. This is important because women often approach challenges differently and are often more likely to consider the direct impact of policies on women. But more than that, we are seeing that issues are the driving force behind engagement in elections. Young women are becoming more independent. We want to go to college and not experience crushing debt. We want to get paid what we’re worth in the workplace. We want to turn the tide on climate change and leave for our kids and grandkids an environment that is healthy. No matter who is president come November, we are going to keep fighting for these issues.
Do you remember the first time you voted and what that feeling was like?
The first time I was eligible to vote in an election, I was living in Kenya. It was a midterm election. I wasn’t particularly interested in politics; in fact, I would say I was completely turned off by politics. But, I had seen the impact of democracy and the power those in office had over their country and its people. I witnessed that the right to vote, especially free from intimidation was something I had that those around me didn’t. I had visited countries and knew people who had died fighting for a democratic system. I couldn’t take that right for granted. I went to the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi and completed an absentee ballot.
Why is this election so important for young women?
There is a lot at stake this election. It’s easy to forget how far women have come in the last few decades and that it wasn’t that long ago that women didn’t have rights over their bodies, protection against domestic violence or harassment in the workplace or equality in places of education, including school athletics. This election, we’re not only fighting for progress, but we’re also fighting against regression. We are more independent and stronger than ever, but there is still work to be done from access to reproductive rights to equal pay. We are also more likely to play active roles as advocates for our families, our friends, and our communities and will fight for the issues that impact the lives closest to us. We know that when we work together we can change the course of our country and build an inclusive system that works for all of us.
"When we work together we can change the course of our country and build an inclusive system that works for all of us."
What have you seen and learned as a business woman that you can share with our audience?
I’m so grateful that I have had the experiences that have shaped me into who I am today, leading Rock the Vote during this critical time in our nation’s history. I have experienced the democratic process here at home and abroad, in an effort to build more just and equitable institutions. When I was in South Africa, I met with various leaders who helped end apartheid and set up a democratic state and the victims who were imprisoned under apartheid. In Kenya, I was part of the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission to build a more democratic state. As an adult, I’ve been the primary advocate and caretaker to a family member with disabilities. Whether as a mother, daughter, sister, neighbor, or employer we often play the role of caretaker and advocate for those in our lives. To me, that means it’s even more critical that we use our voice to express our values in the democratic process. I will always be working to build and protect democracies and fighting for a political system that welcomes everyone’s perspective.
To register and Rock the Vote click here.
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