On Jan. 21, people gathered in cities across the globe to participate in the Women’s March and demonstrate their willingness to take political action. The march encouraged women of all ages to stand up for their natural rights and become more politically involved in their community.
Before there were marches in cities like Washington, Dallas and San Antonio, an organization known as IGNITE was working hard to get young women involved in politics.
IGNITE is a nonprofit organization on a national scale with chapters across the country. It used to only be Texas, Colorado and California but now IGNITE chapters are sprouting up everywhere from New York to Atlanta to Washington.
The motto for IGNITE is “Political power in every young woman,” it encourages young girls to #TakeThePledge and run for a political office or become more involved in politics.
IGNITE allows students to start their own chapters on their university campuses. UNT’s chapter president, public relations senior Evegna Sinopidiou said the club is not polarizing.
“We don’t take sides politically,” Sinopidiou said. “Our goal is to help women no matter what their political affiliation. If they want to work in politics or if they to be lawyers or work in non-profits.”
IGNITE’s chapters in Texas stay close. In January, university IGNITE chapters met in Dallas to brainstorm ideas on how women can become more involved in their community and politics. And more recent news has lead the organization to take stronger stances against President Trump’s policies.
The threat of deportation which Trump imposed on the Hispanic population makes the advertising strategy of IGNITE stand out. On the front of the IGNITE national website is a video titled “We All Belong Here.” In the clip, a young Hispanic girl claims that she is a leader and has the potential to engage in a political office if her teachers, parents and peers support her.
“Tell me I can and I will,” the young girl says.
But for the majority of human history, women could not. The IGNITE website says women account for 51 percent of the population but are “underrepresented in political leadership.” In America, women make up 19 percent of congress, 24 percent of state legislators, 12 percent of governors and 18 percent of mayors.
Since 2009, IGNITE has trained over 5,000 young women from all walks of life. The organization praises its own diversity and said 45 percent of the women in their group are Hispanic, 39 percent black, 9 percent Asian and 7 percent white.
UNT IGNITE member Pamela Ashwood, a treasurer and international studies sophomore, said meetings go a little differently than other campus organizations.
“We focus each meeting on a specific topic or area of interest that our club has unanimously decided they want to talk about,” Ashwood said. “We do an activity where we ask our members what political, social, economic issue they have on their minds, and we take that and work our schedule around that.”
Ashwood added that they had information sessions to go more in-depth with the concern expressed during club meetings such as economics or political unrest. They took the issues with the most concern and learned about them in “unique and informative ways.”
On February 13th, UNT’s IGNITE club set up a table outside of library mall to hand out female empowerment Valentine’s Day cards. On February 16th they will be having their usual club meeting with a guest speaker, UNT alumna, defense attorney Loretta Powers. She also stars in her own TV show, the Power of Attorney. The IGNITE club will also be attending the Texas Young Women’s Political Leadership Conference on February 26th at SMU. With a $10 entrance fee, this event will have speakers such as State Representative Linda Koop.
If students are interested in joining UNT’s IGNITE chapter, the group meets from 6:30-7:30 on Thursday in the Union.
Featured Image: IGNITE’s booth set up in the Library Mall. IGNITE is an organization that’s focused as a political training program, specifically tailored to the needs of young women. Amber Nasser