Up for consideration before the House of Representatives is House Resolution 9 — Recognizing the need to reach out to Hawaii women and engage them in the political process. HR9 is a part of the 2011 Women’s Caucus Package and has been referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

This resolution was inspired by the results of a recent poll conducted by the Patsy T. Mink Political Action Committee. The survey included responses from 671 women in Hawaii who were eligible to vote, and found that 72 percent of women are more concerned with issues that directly affect their families and everyday life than participating in the political process and engaging in larger social and economic issues. It also found that young women are significantly less likely to register to vote or vote regularly than older generations of women.

Furthermore, a majority of the survey respondents have never contacted an elected official to express their concerns and a mere 4 percent of those women believe that their concerns would be taken seriously if they were voiced.

Women are an influential force in Hawaii. They are the backbone of our families, oftentimes overwhelmed with the balance of home, work and education. It is important that Hawaii women feel that their voices are being heard by assuring them that they have a say in meaningful issues that impact their lives and their families.

HR9 requests the Legislature to encourage women to take active roles in public life, including business and government, and to provide the support for women to fully participate by recognizing the need for educational opportunities and family care. It also requests that the Legislature recognize issues important to Hawaii women including the high cost of living, higher quality education, affordable housing and more job opportunities, issues that directly impact the daily lives of women in Hawaii.

I sincerely hope that my colleagues in the House and Senate will take note of the results of the Patsy T. Mink PAC survey and its implications regarding the participation of women in the political process. We need to recognize that there is a significant portion of our community that feels disconnected from the work that we do. The next step is to figure out how we can reach out to young women and provide them with the resources and information to participate in a meaningful way in our government.

About the Author: Representative Linda Ichiyama serves the Moanalua, Salt Lake and Aliamanu communities, where she was born and raised. She is currently the Vice-Chair of the Transportation Committee and serves on the Committees on Labor and Public Employment, Public Safety and Military Affairs and Finance.
Rep. Ichiyama is a graduate of Georgetown University, the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Moanalua High School. She is active in the community through a number of organizations, including the Hawaii Jaycees, Moanalua Lions and Japanese American Citizens League.