On May 7, 2015,the people of the UK made their way to the nearest polling stations and voted in the General Elections. Unfortunately, I was amongst those who were just too young to vote – I was 30 days out from my 18th birthday. I was itching to vote and have my say, but instead, I waited in the car while my Mum exercised her political right to vote. During those few minutes, I watched men and women walking into the polling stations together. It was a little nugget of equality. As a collective, women are awesome. We’re strong and powerful, and when we come together we can make such a difference. I find it confusing why young women are the largest demographic who don’t vote – there are so many reasons why we should! Here are a few of them.
Because women fought for us to be able to
Women have fought for generations, and in some places, are still fighting for equal rights, education, votes, and so much more. Women marched and rioted in the UK, and Emily Davison even threw herself in front of the king’s horse all in the name of women’s rights. Now, Hannah Hardman is fighting to get women to exercise those rights. I find it impossible to think of those women and not be encouraged and empowered to vote. We owe it to these women to vote and to have our voices heard now that we can. Continue the legacy, ladies!
Because we make up such a large part of the demographic
In the 2010 UK elections, only 39% of young women aged 18-24 voted, in contrast to the 50% of young men. Can you imagine how much of a difference that other 61% of us could make? 1,413,165 young women didn’t vote. In the 2012 US mid-term election, 44.5% of women aged 18-24 reported voting, which equates to roughly 6.2 million young women. You go, USA! However, that still means that 53.5% of women did not vote. Young women have the ability to sway campaigns dramatically. One of the main reasons Obama won in 2012 was because he won the majority of the women’s vote. Can you imagine the power we’d have and the change we could effect if we all voted? If we are 50% of the population, we should take 50% of the say in how our nation runs.
Because it’s empowering
Media and movies often portray individual heroines making changes in their lives and communities, giving women a feature length boost of empowerment and get-up-and-go to make a name for ourselves and maybe find a little bit of love on the side, too. For example, Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, and Rebecca Bloomwood in Confessions of a Shopaholic find their power and make their individual voices heard. However, the way we can get our voices heard the loudest and in the most effective way is by voting.
According to UN Women, “only 22 per cent of all national parliamentarians were female as of January 2015.” If more young women voted, that number would blow up. We’d have the same influence over the result of the elections as men. How wonderful would it be to get to a stage where women voting isn’t a newsworthy story because it’s just normal!
It’s okay to complain, but it’s even better to do something about it
It’s totally normal and fine to moan about things we dislike, from the small things (Nutella) to the big things (the way your country is run). But, we’re also fortunate enough to have the opportunity to change it. We are so lucky to be able to have this opportunity when so many still do not.
Essentially, I am encouraging young women just to get out and vote. If you don’t know who to vote for, take a few minutes to hit the internet, and if you do know then go and do it! VOTE!
(Images via Shutterstock and here.)