The Year of the Woman narrative is circling in political spheres, and women are demanding support for equal representation of the sexes. Some women who have been in North Carolina politics for a long time are reflecting on what this means.
Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, and Rep. Cynthia Ball, D-Wake, are two of the 30 women in the N.C. General Assembly. Insko is in her eleventh term as the Democratic Whip for District 56 in Orange County, and Ball was elected as the Freshman Democratic Chair for District 49 in Wake County. Ball was asked to run for years but chose to remain active behind the scenes, until now.
“I was concerned about many things, in lack of adequate funding for education, protection for our environment, diversity programs and so forth," Ball said. "So I decided, ‘Why not me?’"
Ball and Insko are voicing concerns for lack of diversity across all political parties and are displaying their feminine perspectives proudly.
“When you have a super-majority as we do in North Carolina, I don’t care if it was Democrat or Republican, a good number of people’s voices and opinions and preferences and goals are not being represented, so I am a strong believer in us needing a balanced legislature,” Ball said.
Ball believes the ‘Year of the Woman’ narrative should be based more in diversity rather than feminism.
“The 'Year of the Woman’ is the result of many things that have happened," Ball said. "I think the time had come. This is not to imply that men don’t think that women can do everything that they can do, but it is a matter of diversity in general.”
Inkso said she is hopeful for a shift towards greater diversity in the House.
"The General Assembly is still an almost all-male run organization, but I’m optimistic that this year we’ll regain some of those women’s seats that we lost in 2010 and 2012," Insko said.
Elected to the North Carolina House in 1996, Insko has seen a positive trend in diversity.
“During my 22 years, I would say there has been steady progress — faster at some times than others — but steady progress,” Insko said.
In her time in the House, Insko said women have gained a lot of political respect and are now seen as equally capable.
“We still have more deference towards men than we do women, but I don’t think there is a difference in whether or not women are seen as competent," she said. "Men are just entitled. They see themselves in positions of power, and they step up and take it — and women don’t.”
The lack of diversity in the House can only be fixed by new, diverse candidates running, Ball said.
“It just takes people running for office, people supporting them and recognizing that we are a diverse society, and, therefore, the best government is one that is representative of that society,” Ball said.
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