At the risk of entering the volatile realm of so-called “identity politics,” here goes an old white guy diving deep into it…
What percentage of Hawaii lawmakers at the State and County level are women? The below information details the gender equity or inequity that currently exists among lawmakers currently serving in public office at the State and County level. The gender identification is drawn from references contained within the official County and State websites.
50% U.S. Senate: 1 woman, one man
0% U.S. House: 2 men
0% Governor and Lieutenant Governor: 2 men
36% State Senate: 9 women, 16 men – 25 total
31% State House of Representatives: 16 women, 35 men – 51 total
66% Maui Council: 6 women, 3 men – 9 total
55% Hawaii Council: 5 women, 4 men – 9 total
55% Honolulu Council: 5 women, 4 men – 9 total
14% Kauai Council: 1 woman, 6 men – 7 total
While Honolulu, Maui, and Hawaii County are setting a good example, governmental and political power in Hawaii remains firmly ensconced under the control of men.
Historically and globally this has been the case, and look where that has gotten us. Our natural environment led by man-made climate change is on the verge of collapse. The chasm between the ultra-rich and those living in bushes and under bridges grows wider each day. Genocide, racism, mass incarceration, and endless war, is so commonplace it barely makes the news anymore.
Decision-making occurs through the lens of the decision-maker. White cisgender men view the world through an entirely different lens than that of women of color. People whose life experience is grounded in the privilege of wealth likewise see things differently than those who were born into poverty. Whether the lens is of one of class, gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, or other unique life circumstances – each individual makes decisions grounded in their own life experience.
Yes, many of us do our best to understand the perspective of others, to empathize, and attempt to make good and thoughtful decisions accordingly. But an uncomfortable truth is that unless we have walked in their shoes, we cannot truly understand, nor can we truly view the same world as those who come from a wholly different place in life.
To ensure the most equitable and the highest quality decision-making possible, every governing body whether elected or appointed, needs to reflect the community it’s responsible to represent. The best decision-making for the whole will come about only when a communities diversity is represented in its governing institutions.
We need to elect more women to public office at all levels – Statewide. As stated so eloquently by the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”
At the present time, there seems to be no women interested in serving as Governor or Lieutenant Governor. Personally I would love to see a woman at the top of the ticket – a woman who understands and honors the history and culture of this place, who understands the true meaning of “the law of the splintered paddle,” and who puts the protection of the public trust first.
There is no shortage of highly qualified women already in leadership positions within the public, non-profit, and private sectors – and in the community at large.
The 2022 elections are right around the corner. Ballots will be placed into the mail for early Primary Election voting approximately 1 year from now.
Making that first step into the political arena can be a daunting bridge to cross. Support from friends and family is hugely important. Money must be raised and countless doors knocked on.
I write this today thinking all of the strong, caring, smart, and tenacious women I have been blessed to know and work with over the years. I think about their immense talent both present and future, I think about their strong internal compass and their incredible commitment to making positive change happen. And I think about how much better off the world would be if they were in charge.
“As the prevailing voices in the public spotlight are predominantly men, stepping into the spotlight with the truth of who you are as a woman is political change.” ― Tabby Biddle, Find Your Voice: A Woman’s Call to Action