Ariana Katz, an HLS senior majoring in International Law & Institutions, led a discussion with Women4Change Executive Director Rima Shahid about voting and how to get involved at the local, state, and federal level for change. The Hamilton Lugar School is encouraging students to register to vote and check their registration before the October 5th deadline—and Shahid provided many reasons why it’s important in the recorded conversation.
A native Hoosier, Shahid has been involved in political and civic organizations in the US for years, but it wasn’t always that way. After graduating from college, she worked in Bahrain, where she facilitated trade with Pakistan. She was there during the Arab Spring and witnessed the brutal oppression that followed. She realized, she said, “what happens when you don’t have a government by the people, for the people.”
After understanding that her attitude toward the American political system was too passive, she said, “I was never going to take [democracy] for granted anymore.”
So she got involved and eventually joined Women4Change, founded in 2016 in response to the loss of civility in political discourse in the US. At the first meeting, 800 people showed up.
In the years since, Women4Change has worked to educate, equip, and mobilize Hoosiers to create positive change for women. She encourages all HLS students to get involved in the political process and make their voices heard on the issues that affect them.
“The perspective that young people give is invaluable,” Shahid said. Here are some ways to get involved, no matter what subjects are most important to you.
- Register to vote. Even if you are registered, check your registration to make sure your information is up to date.
- Educate yourself on candidates. Women4Change, with Katz’s leadership, developed a voting guide to help parse candidates’ stances on the issues. HLS also has a page dedicated to voter resources.
- And vote early if you can. Said Shahid, “It is your first door into civic and political life.” In Monroe County, you can start voting on October 6th. Don’t wait!
- Join an organization that advocates for and educates people on the issues that matter most to you, whether that’s voting rights, antiracism, the climate crisis, human rights, or myriad other topics. You can connect with others and leverage your power to make real change. “If an organization doesn’t exist, found one,” Shahid added.
- Volunteer for a campaign. Candidates need volunteers to spread their message through fliers, phone calls, texts, emails, and door knocking. Take the next step by getting involved in a local race!
- Run for office. In Indiana, the Lugar Series, named after HLS namesake Senator Richard Lugar, and Hoosier Women Forward, provide training for women looking to run for office. Local chapters of the Republican and Democratic Parties can also help. “Definitely run. We need you,” said Shahid.
In our democracy power resides in the people, but, Shahid said, “The power is only good if you use it.”
The Hamilton Lugar School has many more events planned for this crucial election season. Look for Amb. Lee Feinstein to join former Congresswoman Jill Long Thompson to discuss the presidential debates, as well as future installments of our series on race, gender, and power in international affairs, with updates on our Facebook page and the GetHLS hub.
With the voter registration deadline on October 5th, please register or check your registration here.