By Emily Kochanek – News Editor
To celebrate International Women’s Day, Lasell and the Donahue Institute hosted Stefany Shaheen and her two daughters Elle and Annah. Shaheen, known for her mother, New Hampshire US Senator Jeanne Shaheen who recently won reelection against former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, visited to share her own accomplishments and present reasons why women should be politically active. Shaheen has recently won a seat on Portsmouth’s city council and has previously held the position as chair for the New Hampshire Commission on the Status of Women.
“The world needs us,” said Shaheen, invoking the need for women in the political arena. Through her mother’s accomplishments, Shaheen was given a purpose to pursue public life. Currently, there have only been 46 female senators and only six have been governors. “We still have a long way to go,” said Shaheen. “When women aren’t at the table, these issues [like sexual assault] don’t get the attention they deserve.”
But although there is still a lack of representation of women in public life, Shaheen encouraged the women in attendance that they can accomplish great things. She explained that her mother started on her local zoning board because she was upset her neighbors would lose the trailer park in which they lived. From there, Jeanne Shaheen
rose through public offices and eventually won a US Senate seat.
“What’s so amazing about public office is that there are so many ways to serve,” said Shaheen. She encouraged the audience to find their own voice and passions. During her mother’s first bid for the Senate, Shaheen developed the “Shaheen Rocks” campaign, a sect of the Shaheen campaign that focused on college-age voters.
Her message to the millennials in the crowd was simple: “I’m here with a plea to you to not wait,” said Shaheen about political action.
Her daughters also spoke briefly about the importance of being women in their own public lives. Ella suffers from Type I Diabetes and has spoken publicly about her illness and Annah has won a seat on her school student council. Both girls find female political action is important.
“The need is vast,” said Shaheen. But she is positive that things will change. “When women lead, we all benefit.”