Local News

Women Make a Show of Force to Make their Voices Heard

Posted February 1, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST

— You can't change anything by standing on the sidelines. You have to get involved and raise your voice. A group of women took that advice to heart and made quite a show of force at the State Legislative Building Tuesday.

Women's organizations from all over the state sent members to Raleigh to talk about legislative issues and lobby for their causes.

Taking the old adage "you can't complain if you don't vote" one step further; this group believes you can't complain if you don't get involved.

That's why people like 16-year-old Emily Alexander are coming together to talk about legislation important to women.

"I'm not of voting age yet, but I'd love to kind of get started early so I can know what to do when I am of voting age," says Alexander.

"I feel that we as women need to speak up for the issues that are going to make a difference in our lives and the lives of our children," says Mary Fran Schickedantz, a conference participant.

The women are talking about domestic violence, sexual assault, child care, health care and more. But the big concern is how to get funding for programs which benefit women.

"We still need funding to continue that fight," says participant Dwanda Scott.

In June, the Job Placement Program for Women, which Scott runs atWayne Community College, will run out of state money. She is asking lawmakers to put the money back into the budget.

"We're going to have a 100 percent success rate because we know that it's a worthy cause and we know that our legislators are going to see that also," says Scott.

State lawmakers say they're impressed with the role they see women playing in today's government.

"I see them participating in forums. I see them running for office. I see them taking lead roles on the issues, not just being [a] behind the scenes coordinator of the effort," says Republican Sen. Betsy Cochrane, of Davie County.

Today there are 32 women in the General Assembly. It is an increase, but not that big of an increase from 10 years ago when there were only 22 women.

Lawmakers say women still have a long way to go in getting involved in state government.