Hundreds of women convened on the campus of Prince George’s Community College Oct. 28 for the first Women’s Legislative Conference, for an opportunity to rub elbows with policy makers while learning about the legislative process and getting information on everything from education to local, state and federal economic concerns.
The conference, entitled “Women Educated, Women Empowered, Women Engaged"—WE3—was sponsored by the Prince George's County Commission for Women and several partners, including the Office of the County Executive, the Prince George's County Council, the Community Foundation for Prince George's County and the college.
“This is extremely important because 51 percent of the voters in Prince George’s County are women,” said state Sen. Joanne C. Benson (D-District 24). “The issues that are before us are critical and it is absolutely important that we come together for this forum so that we can begin to chart the course in Annapolis to put legislation in place not only on the state level, but on the county and federal level.”
Benson, the only woman senator from Prince George’s County, said now is the time to put issues involving women “on the front burner.”
Attendees were treated to information about advocacy work and lobbying on Capitol Hill and how policies and legislation can directly affect them. The women, and a few men in attendance, also learned what it means to be a political leader and how to get their name on a ballot for an elected office.
“This event is so necessary because we need to have women’s voices heard and we need to engage them in the legislative process,” said conference chair Jennifer Jones. “Elected officials and leaders need to hear from women when they’re making decisions.”
Joyce Starks, of Lanham, took advantage of the health screenings by having her blood pressure checked. She said she braved the unpleasant weather of the first hours of the storm related to Hurricane Sandy because she wanted to “learn more about what happens in the county.”
“I also want to learn how to work with elected officials to get things done,” she said.