Editor's Note: On Tuesday, April 30, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand published an op-ed on PolicyMic calling for an end to the "epidemic of sexual assault in the military." Senator Gillibrand agreed to write a short follow-up response to the top question in the discussion on her article. Read her response below.
Yanwen Xia – "How would you in your current position help foster more female participation and occupation in public service?"
Yes, it's certainly no accident that sexual assault in the military has become a front burner issue as we have a record number of women in the U.S. Senate and as I've become chair of the Senate Armed Services Personnel subcommittee. It's one of the reasons I started my Off The Sidelines campaign – to encourage more women to run for office so we have a broader perspective on the issues and hopefully bring about better results for all Americans. But it's not all about running for office. My larger goal with Off The Sidelines was to issue a call to action to women to make their voices heard on whatever issue they're passionate about in whatever position in their community they're comfortable holding. I liken it to the Rosie The Riveter campaign during World War II. Rosie The Riveter was a symbol of America's call to action to women to enter the work force as men had gone off to war to fight. It said to women, you are needed, America needs you to step up, and I believe the same is true today. The Rosie the Riveter campaign was extremely effective, bringing 6 million women into the workforce. Imagine 6 million more women voting that didn't last cycle, or 6 million more women donating to women's campaigns.
Getting off the sidelines can take many forms – it could be writing a letter to the editor, tweeting to your Senator or volunteering for a campaign. Or, like Christa Vidaver, it could mean beginning the first Western New York chapter of Dress For Success after being inspired by one of our Off The Sidelines emails. Or it could take the form of the incredible activism of Moms Demand Action, who've lobbied members of Congress – both online and off – to support commonsense gun safety legislation. There are so many ways women can make a difference by making their voices heard on the issues they care about, it's a priority for me to make sure that women know how important their voices are and that making them heard really matters.