Leading female politicians on Merrimack panel discussion during Women’s Week activities urge women to involve themselves in politics
U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Lowell, and Methuen School Committee member Jana DiNatale exhorted other women April 26 to get involved in politics during a one-hour panel discussion hosted by the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies for Women’s Week.
“We need to get involved so we can make sure those issues we really understand are represented,” DiNatale said.
Women make up 51 percent of the population so female politicians may not change the votes in Congress or local committees but their perspectives change the discussions, Tsongas and DiNatale said.
The program was coordinated by Debra Michals who acted as moderator during the one-hour event.
The numbers of women in politics is increasing but far from representative of the population in the United States, Michals said.
The discussion included a previously recorded message from U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
“We’ve made some real progress in the last decades getting women in positions of power but we still have work to do,” Warren said.
Tsongas won a special election to fill former U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan’s Fifth District seat in 2007. She was the first woman to fill a Massachusetts congressional seat in 25 years. Due to redistricting she now serves the Third Distric.
DiNatale has served as assistant district attorney for Essex County as well as deputy director of training before leaving District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett’s office to enter a private law practice. She ran for the school committee at the urging of her children.
“One day my kids called me out; ‘You’re always telling us we need to be part of the solution, why don’t you run,’” she said. “That was a light bulb moment.”
State Rep. Diana DiZiglio, D-Methuen was originally scheduled to appear on the panel but was pulled away to work on the state budget; and Lawrence City Councilor Nilka Alvarez-Rodriguez had a family emergency so she couldn’t attend.