Tallahassee’s Capitol held an educational forum “Understanding the Legislative Process” by the Florida Commission of the Status of Women (FCSW) forum during March 29-30. This event was dedicated to educate women on understanding how ideas form into laws.
Patti W. Hamilton, the president of the event, was the first to speak and welcomed all who came. She addressed that she thought it was critical that both men and women should understand the legislative process because it affects everyone’s daily lives.
“I think legislatures truly want to hear from citizens…so if you have a better understanding of how to approach it and how to work within the system to have your voice heard, it’s better for the elective officials so they hear from you. And it’s more effective for you if know how to do that.”
“It’s just one of our efforts, on the educational side of what’s going on in the world today that we feel that it’s effective for us to help people have an understanding.”
Hamilton stated she is a firm believer in using the ripple effect for information. Meaning if Hamilton informs 10 people, those same 10 people will spread the word to others. “That’s how you can effect change, it’s how you can educate, and I think it’s a very grounded way someone will walk away with something.”
After Hamilton, Ashley Guinn – the chair of the program – stepped up to the podium to address the crowd of women in the room. Guinn is not just the chair of the program, but she is also the commissioner of FSCW and is tasked with educating, collaborating, and connecting with women throughout the state of Florida. Guinn was excited to see all the fresh faces who appeared at the event to get a better understanding of the legislative process.
“I hope they gain the knowledge that they can go forth and do whatever they feel, because a lot of women have ideas or they want some funding added to a certain cause…so this will help give them that knowledge.”
Congresswoman Gwen Graham also had a few words to share. She began strong, speaking of how her father, Bob Graham – former governor of Florida and U.S. Senator – and how he fought for women’s rights back in 1982. Graham also mentioned how she never imagined she would still have to fight for women’s rights today.
“Women she be more involved in the government primarily to make sure [women] are not going backwards, but forward for equality in our country,” said Graham.“I think women being at the table would bring a compassionate understanding of women’s issues that need to be a part of the conversation.”
Graham’s vision of Florida involves women advocating and fighting for the issues that are important while giving them the opportunity to have a seat at the table with men.
“No one can understand and discuss the importance of equality in our country for women, better than a woman,” Graham added.
Dr. “Lady” Dhyana Ziegler, the governor’s appointee to FSCW and a journalism professor at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University, made an appearance at the event. She expressed that FSCW’s basic goal was to better the lives of women and girls in the state of Florida.
“The goal of these particular two days is to teach women about understanding the legislative process,” said Ziegler. “This is to just broaden your “view finder”, if you will, for you can see as a citizen in this state that you have opportunities as well as responsibilities to impact the laws of this state.”
By the end of the event, it seemed women felt more optimistic about Florida’s future.The takeaway from this event was to give the attendees the tools they needed to become leaders in their growing committees.
This is event was organized by the following women:
Ashley Guinn – Chair, Public Policy Committee, Florida Commission on the Status of Women
Kelly S. Sciba – Executive Director, Florida Commission on the Status of Women
Patti W. Hamilton – Chair, Florida Commission on the Status of Women