On the day declared as Women’s Equality Day by the South Carolina General Assembly Women’s Caucus, the League of Women Voters gathered in a press conference this afternoon at the Statehouse to both celebrate and lament women’s involvement and lack of involvement in South Carolina politics.
Candy Waites, Executive Director of the SC Gubernatorial Appointments Project and former House Representative, sent out this challenge: “We must remember our history and continue to work to strengthen the legacy of our foremothers.”
According to statistics, South Carolina ranks 50th in the nation for the number of women holding elected office, even though women make up 51.3 percent of South Carolina’s population and 55.3 percent of the state’s registered voters.
Barbara Rackes, treasurer for the Southeastern Institute for Women in Politics, broke down the numbers further, listing the only five women ever to have been elected to statewide or federal office from South Carolina. Numbers across the hall in the House are not much more impressive.
Our high of 19 members back in 1992 was less than 10 percent of the total legislative population. Today that number has dropped to 17. So, we hope that we are looking forward and not backward at this point.
Carole Cato says the state is wasting its resource. “There’s no need to ever waste human capital, and in this state we see lots of it going down the drain.”
Nevertheless, Representative Joan Brady remains optimistic and celebrates how far South Carolina has come.
Even with progress still to be made, Women’s Equality Day acknowledges that our nation and our state are much better positioned to take advantage of the skills and insights of so many individuals–those who were once barred from the rights of public life by virtue of belonging to the group we call “Women.”
Also present was 90 year-old, Sarah Leverrette, who was described as being “born a suffragette.”
We cannot have a democracy with 50 percent of your population ignored. So it’s my feeling that before I am gone, I want to see this happen.