By We’Ced Youth Media
Photo courtesy of Leah Wight
Editor’s Note: Last week, We’Ced Youth Media sent five youth reporters to attend the IGNITE Young Women’s Political Leadership Conference in San Francisco. Timed to coincide with Women’s History Month, the event focused on inspiring political activism and leadership in young women from underserved communities. Attendees met with influential women leaders from across the state, including California’s Chief Justice, Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye, and joined in panel discussions focused on building the political power of young women like themselves. (From L to R: Leah Wight, Stephanie Mancilla, Alice Herrera, Nisa Salazar, Natalie Wight) Below are their reflections:
I was very excited to attend the conference. I was able to hear from several motivational women speak about their involvement in politics. They were very inspirational. My favorite workshop was on Sex Trafficking. It was a difficult topic, but it was necessary for me to learn about it. Contrary to popular belief, sex trafficking is closer to home than we think. It does not only occur in foreign countries. I also had lunch with a woman from Oakland who advocates for children in school and in her community. I hope to follow in her footsteps, and I look forward to making positive changes and getting more involved in my community.
-Nisa Salazar, 17
Attending the leadership conference was very empowering. I got to here from powerful women and learned more about politics. I even had the honor of eating lunch with Oakland City Council Chairwoman Lynette McElhaney. During my time with Ms. McElhaney, I spoke to her about some of the problems Merced is facing, particularly the fact that south Merced has not been represented in our City Council. I also attended three workshops and attended a great panel on how to succeed in politics. I learned crucial tips on how to go against the ‘norms’ in society and still be successful.
– Stephanie Mancilla, 17
At the conference, I had the privilege of learning from a woman named Marjan Philhour, who is running for supervisor of District 1 in San Francisco. During a discussion about race, gender and political identity, she shared her struggles and achievements as a Filipino businesswoman and political candidate. As a young woman, Philhour was greeted with skepticism by the business world, which inspired her to create a successful corporation. Now she is striving to become the first Filipino-American City Supervisor in San Francisco. A memorable piece of her advice was to cultivate personal relationships, especially friendships with other women, something which we did during the conference.
– Natalie Wight, 17
The event was great! It was very well organized, professional, and featured an array of commanding speakers. My absolute favorite presenter was Oakland City Councilwoman Lynette McElhaney, because she was so passionate about her work. I also enjoyed attending the Race, Gender, and Political Identity panel as the panelists were very engaging. Additionally, I liked that no one focused on gender roles; that was very comforting as a transgendered young woman. Overall, I loved the entire experience.
– Alice Hererra, 17
Listening to the Keynote Speaker, Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye, deliver her speech was my favorite part of the conference. She spoke about her journey into politics, discussing her struggles as a Filipino American woman who was very reserved as a child. She encouraged us to find value in every position/persona we take on, because through each experience, we acquire skills to use in positions that more closely align with our aspirations. Furthermore, she encouraged us to take positions we feel under-qualified for, as qualifications can be negotiable. Her words resonated with the audience, likely because many were college and high school aged young women in the midst of major life changes. I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and hope to return again.
Leah Wight, 24