Women and Political Campaigns

alsawafby Sami Alsawaf, Class of 2017

As current President of the Women’s Law Society, I helped organize an event called “Women and Political Campaigns,” a panel discussion focused on helping women run for office. The panel featured Commonwealth’s Attorney Holly Smith (a WM Law alum) and Julie Copeland of Emerge VA, an organization that helps train women to run for office. Professor Rebecca Green, Director of the Election Law Program, moderated the event.

The panel focused on issues that women face while running for office—lies about their personal life, the media drawing attention to issues that have no bearing on a woman’s ability to run for office, and subtle sexism about them as a person. It was great to hear both sides of the coin—a woman who has actually ran for public office, and another woman that helps train women to run for office. They were able to speak about real life experiences and talk about the science behind why certain techniques are more successful for women.

The event was inspiring, to say the least. I left the event feeling empowered with a desire to run for public office, and I wanted to do everything I could to help other women run as well.

The questions from the audience showed how much each person cares about this issue. Questions ranged from how we can help prevent the sexism in campaigns, to issues faced by younger women that may prevent them from running for office. The panelists were very open in their answers and willing to share their own personal experiences. They encouraged all of us to run, if that was our goal, and not to let anyone tell us that we could not win.

After the discussion, we all headed out to the law school patio for a small reception. It was a great way for me, as a 3L, to get to know some of the 1Ls and 2Ls that I have not met before, and all of the participants loved getting one on one time with our panelists. The event was a great way to wrap up this election cycle, as it was able to focus on a lot of the issues I am sure many people have been feeling. Everyone left the event feeling unstoppable and capable of running one day. I’m glad my organization was able to provide such an experience for our students.

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