By KAITLIN BEAUREGARD

STAFF WRITER

Gender gap is defined as the discrepancy in opportunities, status and attitudes between men and women.  According to the Women & Politics Institute at American University and the Center of American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, 17 percent of U.S. senators, 12 percent of state governors, and 22.4 percent of statewide elected officials are women.  These numbers statistically indicate that women today are still suffering from a gender gap in United States politics.

The UNH Women’s Studies Program has been selected as one of 50 colleges and universities around the country to participate and host Elect Her: Campus Women Win. 

Elect Her is the only program in the country whose main purpose is training and providing women with the tools to run for student government positions, and then going further by helping them run for political offices and positions in the future.

“Part of the reason we applied [to Elect Her] is because we recently started a social justice leadership project through the women’s studies program,” said Faina Bukher, the educational program coordinator of UNH’s women’s studies program.

The social justice leadership project of the UNH women’s studies program is an event that joins UNH students, staff and faculty with New Hampshire and Maine women for dinner and workshops, where they discuss the future of feminist leadership in and around the community.

“Through this project we are trying to create leaders who think through a social justice lens,” said Bukher.  “With inclusion and equality our hope is to not only close the gender gap, but think of ways that underrepresented populations in politics can be more included.”

Elect Her, which also works with American Association of University Women (AAUW) and Running Start, both nation wide organizations to involve women in politics, will come to UNH on Nov. 7 for a one-day training event in the Strafford Room from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  According to the Elect Her website, students will “practice hands-on campaign skills, hear from inspiring local speakers and discuss research on women in government.”

“I think New Hampshire is a leader in closing the gender gap in politics,” said Bukher, on how Elect Her and the Social Justice Leadership Project will help women’s involvement in New Hampshire politics. 

“And I think that this program will encourage our young women and young leaders to join the ranks of the women who have led the way,” she said.