By Anita Kotowicz

Contributing Writer

Generations of women gathered in the MUB’s Strafford Room Friday afternoon.  For 3 hours, starting at 5 p.m., female lawmakers from Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire kicked off a weekend of training for the Elect Her leadership campaign.

“Women have just as much to say as men,” said Jessica Timber, a local high school student interested in law. “Not enough women are in positions of power, and events like this might help give women the confidence to pursue their dreams.”

The event started off with a short introduction from each of the lawmakers present that night, with a little bit about how the lawmakers ended up with their positions. Lawmakers consisted of Bobbi Beavers from Maine, Lydia Blume and Patty Hymanson.

The state representatives from New Hampshire were Patty Lovejoy, Katherine Prudhomme O’Brien, Marcia Moody, and Marjorie Smith. In addition to lawmakers and state representatives, former State Senator Amanda Merrill, and Terie Norelli, current CEO of the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation were also in attendance.

After the introductions, there was a dinner; the motivational workshops began after the meal.  There were over a 100 individuals in the room, walking around from table to table participating in the activities. The students, staff, faculty, and community members taking part of the kick off event represented multiple generations.

“It was an enlightening experience to be able to talk to older women to get their view on women’s issues,” said Polly Morse, a high school student hoping to major in women’s studies. Morse went on to talk about her future and how the workshops only gave her more confidence in her dreams.

During the event, each workshop taught women something different. However, there was one that stood out. It informed women about how truly under-represented they are. Throughout U.S. history, there have only been 313 women, 10 LGBTQ+ and 138 black representatives out of the 10,737 people that have been in office.

“Even though multiple generations are represented here, the same issues that existed then, are still around today,” said Katherine Josephs. “Hopefully workshops like this will inspire more women to go into office and start making some changes.”

Encouraging words were heard around the room as the harsh reality of women’s issues were shared. Women of all cultures, ages, sexualities and beliefs gathered in one room to work on inspiring others to change the world and give women and the LGBTQ+ community as well, the opportunity to have their voices heard.

The women’s studies program at UNH provides students the opportunity to develop an understanding of the status that women have in various cultures, races, sexualities, and religions as well as learning about the contributions that women have made in history.  More information can be found on the Women’s Studies Program website, or by contacting the educational program coordinator Faina Bukher.