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Akshaya Aalla: Youths in Ending Sexism in Politics

Opinion

Tue, March 05

It is a well-known fact that women are underrepresented in many fields. Politics is no exception.

After the USA became independent in 1776, it took 140 years for a woman to be elected to an office. And although we now have a female vice president, only a third of elected leadership positions are filled with women, and sexism in politics still continues to grow.

Akshaya Aalla, a high school junior, decided to address this issue by creating It’s Her Right, a student-run nonprofit to inspire girls to pursue a career in politics and to challenge any barriers that prevent them.

About the Founder

Aalla is currently a high school junior in California. Her interests include exploring the intersections of public policy, race and ethnicity, and education to better understand how they impact society and school systems. She has an extensive background in democracy, currently serving on numerous youth boards and coalitions, along with working for multiple state-sponsored advocacy organizations to combat women's inequity in the education system.

She first became interested in politics and policymaking after attending the California Association of Student Councils (CASC)’s Student Advisory Board on Legislation in Education (SABLE) conference. There she was introduced to the world of policymaking and was able to present her first bill to the joint Senate and Assembly Committee on Education.

“I was fascinated with everything I learned there and knew that this was the path I wanted to follow for the rest of my life,” said Aalla.

How It Started

It’s Her Right started when Aalla realized that women were underrepresented in politics.

“I was a sophomore in high school when I realized that although women make up 50.4% of the nation's population, we are continually underrepresented in our nation's political sphere, women represent less than a third of our elected leadership,” said Aalla.”We, as the people, cannot thrive or function as a governing body if the demographics that represent us are absent. I decided that I needed to work to address and change this pressing issue. I started It’s Her Right to combat the lack of female representation in our political sphere and inspire more women to run for office so we can close the gender gap. If we tap into the potential of our country's women, there is nothing that can stop us.”

Image Credit: From Whitney High School Student Media

What It’s Her Right Does

It’s Her Right has many resources for women in underrepresented backgrounds.

“We offer a range of resources for young women, including seminars, a blog, and an online community,” said Aalla. “Our blog serves as a platform to educate and raise awareness on topics that are not typically given attention. Our online community provides a platform for women all over the world to come together, connect, and collaborate on projects and campaigns while providing each other with feedback and support.”

Blog topics are carefully selected based on the most pressing issues in the world at the moment. They aim to empower young women. Through the blog, It’s Her Right hopes to educate the public about the issues related to female empowerment and increase awareness around the topic while motivating their audience to make a change by increasing their knowledge on the topic.

There are also executive board positions for women between the ages of 13 to 25. “We hope that by providing young women with leadership opportunities at a young age they can gain professional knowledge and skills, including how to work in a professional environment and how to manage a team,” added Aalla. “By exposing young women to leadership positions early in life, we hope to inspire them to continue to hold leadership positions within their community later in life.”

Core Values and Impact

“Our organization has a multitude of core values that we live by, including empowerment, which means that we strive to promote the Empowerment of women by encouraging them to take control of their lives, make informed choices, and achieve their full potential,” Aalla explains. It's Her Right not only focuses on empowerment but also on equality. “Equality is another important value for us, as we seek justice for women and advocate for fair treatment in all aspects of life, including legal, social, and economic spheres,” she said.

They also value inclusivity, education, awareness, collaboration, and community building.

These core values have guided It's Her Right to make an impact around the globe. It’s Her Right has over 100 members in eight countries worldwide. There are five clubs in schools across the country and they have partnered with organizations such as WECAN and Women in Politics to expand their reach globally. Their efforts have been recognized and published on media sites like GirlTalk and the Women's Media Center, which has helped them to further their impact.

Other milestones include their inaugural seminar held on October 28th, which was attended by 40 delegates. The seminar consisted of two keynote speakers and two workshops. After attending the event, participants expressed that they had gained insights into politics and democracy, which they intended to leverage in their future leadership roles. “It was an elating experience to see the impact of our hard work on dozens of young women who decided to run for office, making it one of our top milestones to date,” said Aalla.

Future

When asked about her hopes for the future of It’s Her Right, she said, "My long-term vision for our organization is to grow and have hundreds of young women participate in our seminars and workshops, all feeling inspired to run for office in the future. I hope that we will be able to expand globally, hosting events in areas that are usually underrepresented. Our ultimate goal is to achieve gender parity in our nation's representation, ensuring equal participation of female and male representatives.”

She has many more plans for the organization in the next year. It's Her Right is excited to share that they plan to hold its first-ever in-person seminar this summer, most likely in Sacramento, California. The upcoming project will include a keynote speaker, multiple interactive workshops, leadership lessons, and opportunities for young people to network and gain insight into the process of becoming an elected official.

Advice to Others

As a close, Aalla offers some advice to aspiring young woman interested in starting their own nonprofit.

“Follow your passions and your dreams, and never give up,” said Aalla. “Your passion is at the core of your organization and you will not succeed without it. Your passion for your cause will push you to persevere even in the face of adversity.”

Joining It’s Her Right

To join It’s Her Right, go to their website. When you join you can gain access to seminars and the bi-weekly blog. You can also gain access to the executive board and club founder applications.

Chantel Hernandez
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Writer since Jul, 2023 · 12 published articles

Chantel Hernandez is a 15 year old girl. She likes reading, watching TV, and being on her phone.

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