By Kara Odum ‘15Staff Writer
The Women in Public Service Project is an initiative started by Hillary Clinton to get more women involved in public policy. The project’s goal is to achieve “at least 50 percent female leaders in civics and politics by 2050.” Through a coalition of women’s colleges and other organizations, the project is focused on improving training, networking, and mentoring to support the next generation’s women leaders. Originally the East Coast sister colleges, which include Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Smith and Wellesley, developed the WPSP as a joint effort with the US State Department.
President Lori Bettison-Varga took the initiative to get Scripps College involved in the project by writing to Hillary Clinton. Since then two other California schools, Mount St. Mary’s College and Mills College have joined the project, forming the California’s Women’s Colleges Institute.
The first WPSP Institute was held at Wellesley College in June and included speakers from Kosovo and Cambodia as well as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The speeches emphasized the importance of encouraging and supporting women in public service, in light of the massive underrepresentation of women holding office around the world. Clinton shared the astounding fact that “women hold less than 20 percent of all seats in parliaments and legislatures around the world [and] here in the United States, our percentage is even lower, 17 percent. And it’s not just politics. Only 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women.”
As a part of the California’s Women’s Colleges Institute, Scripps College is partnering with Mount St. Mary’s College to host female political leaders from Latin America for policy forums and workshops. This event will take place in March.
Recently, Josefina Vazquez Mota, Mexico’s first female presidential candidate to run under a major political banner, spoke to students from Scripps and Mount St. Mary’s about her experience as secretary of public education and as a presidential candidate for the National Action Party. Similar public policy leaders will speak at the West Coast WPSP Institute next semester; however, the speaker line-up is still being organized. For more information on WPSP, visit the website at womeninpublicservice.org.