The national movement to end the marginalization of women from all walks of life in America has cracked the sexualized “glass ceiling.” Starting with Hillary Clinton as the Democratic primary party presidential nominee in 2016, women have continued their rise in Congress as seen in the 2018 midterm elections. An unprecedented 131 ethnically diverse women, including Native American, Muslim, and Somali backgrounds, were elected to Congress in 2018 and have advocated their strong visions for America’s future.
In 2019, five more women announced their campaigns for the 2020 presidential nomination hoping they, too, can change history. They include Hawaii’s own Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Although only 14 women have run for president in history of the United States, these women are “pushing the envelope” in politics as major national leaders.
At ‘Iolani, many young women are “raising the bar” in areas such as innovation, sports, leadership, and student government.
In Mrs. Kimi Frith’s Economics and Entrepreneurship class, Saydee Velasco ‘19 saw the opportunity to start her business, Healing Hearts.
“At Healing Hearts, we promote the self-worth of all the young women involved in sex trafficking, and strive to give them a second chance at life,” said Velasco. “We sell shirts, phone cases, and tote bags to raise awareness for its victims.”
Mrs. Frith hopes that more girls will be inspired by exemplary leaders like Velasco.
“I hope that girls see successful women who aren’t afraid to ‘go for it,’ as well as those who aren’t afraid to break any stereotypes,” said Mrs. Frith.
Taylor Venenciano ‘19 is not only the captain of the girls varsity soccer team, but is also editor-in-chief of the Yearbook, class president, and the president of Interact Club.
Venenciano’s undeniable skills in organization and socialization have molded her into a naturally talented leader.
“For me, leadership, number one, is about making everyone trust you, by listening and talking to people and getting to know them on individual levels,” said Venenciano.
“Organization is the next level of my leadership in which I can delegate-- and I have great people helping me in all that I do.”
In the 2018-2019 proconsul election, Sarah Abdul-Ghani ‘19 was the only female candidate. Reflecting on the results of last year’s election, Abdul-Ghani stressed the importance of voting based on merit and not gender.
“I wasn’t running on a feminist platform, and I didn’t want people to vote for me because I’m a girl,” Abdul-Ghani said.
Abdul-Ghani also serves as co-president of Operation RAD, a Senior Lu`au executive coordinator, and runs her own henna business, of which she proudly states, “I started that! It felt like I built this from the ground up, and it’s still going up!”
Her advice to all rising leaders is, “You have to be willing to fail. You have to put yourself out there even if you have the possibility of succeeding.”
Mrs. Frith, Venenciano, Velasco, and Abdul-Ghani want to see more fearless women take on roles of leadership in the community.
“I think women are better listeners and are open to more opinions,” says Venenciano, who believes that “it’s about time” for women to be more involved.
Velasco also hopes to see more equality in occupations for women.
“My hopes for these women are that they succeed at what they’re doing and realize what their full potential is. I don’t want anyone else to feel as if they are less than worthy,” she said.
The women’s movement has ignited the flame for new female leaders and role models for the next generation, and it is time to recognize their unphased force.