Politics & Government: Why Women Need a Seat at the Table

By Rita Allison

by Celia Cooksey

More women today are owners of small businesses, taking leadership positions in larger businesses, sitting at the decision-making table in our military and stepping out for elected offices at all levels.

Why does this make a difference? Well, we all know if you don’t have a seat at the table, you don’t have a voice in the direction of our future.

Over the years it has been a long and difficult journey for women to be recognized in all these areas. However, we bring a great ingredient for success.

Rita Allison

Organizations that do not have sufficient female employees lack diverse opinions, innovation and even profits. Women most of the time adopt the decision-making approach, make sure of the decision’s validity and analyze the pros and cons before making their decision.

I saw firsthand, as I served in the South Carolina House of Representatives for some 25 years, the subjects that came before us, that were of women. Campaigning I would be asked, “As a woman, what will be your issues?” I explained more than once, all issues will be a concern to me, as a wife, mother, businesswoman. I deal with a household, pay bills, take care of the education of the children, buy insurance, and plan for my family’s future. I balance a budget and deal with the healthcare and safety of the family. All those are issues of every family and person in South Carolina.

Women broaden the perspectives, increase creativity and innovation, diversify the pool of talent and competencies, reduce conflicts and improve the process.

Women also can provide mentorship to other women. Most of the time, women will work together and form coalitions to get a job done. They have proven that in PTA, PTO, political groups, church groups, in the military, and in the elected arena. Women are generally capable of considering the “human side” of a situation and generate high levels of sympathy when it comes into play.

While the United States has been a leader in the adoption of official UN Resolutions that call for women’s equality in all facets of governance and the passage of the 2017 Women, Peace and Security Act, women are still heavily under-represented in all levels of leadership.

We have seen women take a strong stand for “Women Rights” in all areas… even working across party lines to strengthen their voice. They have pushed for the rights of women and families in other countries.

I once spoke to a Speaker of the South Carolina House about why more women were not in leadership positions, as they were there working hard and learning the process. He said women must be elected first. That is true, no matter the position – professionally, elected, appointed, we must be willing to step out. We must prepare, volunteer and be ready when the seat at the table comes open. When you have that seat at the table, you must then have the voice to help move the needle in the right direction for the whole.


Rita Allison is a former member of the South Carolina House of Representatives. She currently serves on the South Carolina State Board of Education.

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