This semester, Texas Woman’s University actively encourages its students to get involved in the political storm. Women across Texas are now running for political office in swarms. According to Renuka Rayasam on politico.com, over 50 Texan women are running for congressional races this year. With events like IGNITE and a visit from Victoria Neave, state representative, TWU’s Global Connections Initiative is inspiring students to take part in women’s history.
In February, TWU hosted the 6th national IGNITE conference – an event where young women got to meet women in politics in person. This year, Nicole Collier, the first black woman to represent District 95 as state representative, reminded the young women attending IGNITE of a powerful quote from Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”
Following the same spirit this past Monday, TWU students had the chance to hear Victoria Neave who is running for State Representative of Texas for District 107. Dr. William Benner, Assistant Professor of Spanish and member of the Global Connections Initiative committee, first heard Victoria Neave speak at the 2017 Women’s March in Dallas. Benner said, “I was impressed with not only how she spoke, but that she knew what needed to be said.” He reached out to see if Neave could speak at TWU to inspire students to get involved.
He introduced Neave by leaving the audience pondering the translation of a line by Spanish poet, Antonio Machado. In Spanish, it reads, “Caminante, no hay camino / se hace camino al andar.” Translated, it reads, “Traveler, there is no road. You trace the road as you travel.”
When Victoria Neave reached the podium, she began her story with her father’s. He came to Texas from Mexico with two things: a sixth grade education and a dream. Neave grew up in the Pleasant Valley she jokingly referred to as “el barrio.” Her parents had two goals for her: to get a good education, and to always remember where she came from. She said, “I knew from an early age that I wanted to serve.” Since her election in 2016, she has filed 29 bills, 6 of which have been passed into law. She works hard to fight for issues like equal pay, women’s healthcare, school funding, and keeping immigrant families together.
One of the issues she discussed was the first bill she filed. She explained, “I wanted to make sure that my very first bill that I filed impacted women.” Her first action, then, was to address the backlog of thousands of untested rape kits in Texas. Reported last summer by Dallas News, many of the rape kits sat in the evidence room for so long, they grew mold. Neave explained that since her bill passed in January, every time a Texan renews their license or goes to the DMV, there’s a checkbox available to donate $1 or more to help fund this issue. Despite this win, Texas desperately needs more women representation.
Currently, there are only 29 women representatives out of 150 in the House legislature, meaning we need 46 more women just to have a 50/50 male to female ratio in the Texas House. This is important, especially when it comes to women’s healthcare. “Our perspectives are different especially when it comes to our bodies, to see the need for different representation, the need for people of different backgrounds, the need for people with different voices, to come and fight for our community, I hope that if any of you are ever considering running for office that you will do it and don’t wait for a later time. Do it now,” she said.
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