Wisconsin Women: Preparing to Lead
MADISON, Wis. – From across the state, 25 women are participating in the sixth annual Wisconsin Women's Network Policy Institute.
This past weekend, the women participated in the first of four intensive weekend sessions, to learn to navigate Wisconsin's legislative process so they can advance ideas designed to improve the lives of women and girls.
Jenifer Cole, president of the Wisconsin Women's Network, says the women learn to be effective advocates.
"They learn how to speak with the media,” she explains. “They learn how to develop coalitions. They learn how to write press releases and one-pagers about those policy initiatives or issues that they're advocating for, and then all the confidence-building that comes with that."
Many of the graduates of the past five Policy Institutes have gone on to become activists and leaders in their home communities, and several have been elected to public office.
According to Cole, the primary goal is to increase the number of women community leaders who are actively involved in the public policy process. She says diversity is critical to the success of the Policy Institute.
"We definitely try to make sure that we have lots of representation from different socio-economic backgrounds, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, ability,” she states. “We really work on the intersectionality of the group and those participants, as well as the topics that they work on."
The women are from all parts of Wisconsin. Cole says women are still under-represented as policy makers in the community, and at the state level.
"We need more women of color at that table,” she stresses. “We need more people of color at all those tables.
“We need more women at those tables because folks should be involved in the decision-making process for the decisions that impact their lives. And public policy impacts every aspect of our lives."
Speakers at the Policy Institute have included both Democratic and Republican party legislative members, agency heads and Supreme Court justices.