By Patti Samar
This year, more women will likely run for elected public office than ever before.
“What difference does it make whether or not there are women in office?” some people ask.
It has been proven that men and women approach problem solving in different ways. It doesn’t mean one is better than the other, but it does mean that a greater gender balance in elected public office could possibly create an even greater problem solving ability in capitals across the nation.
One local example:
When Pamela Wall of Algonac was an elected official on the St. Clair County Board of Commissioners in the 2000s, the county board was busy negotiating healthcare contracts for its employees. Rising healthcare costs had commissioners looking for various ways in which to save money.
There was a line item in the contract that specifically outlined the cost of including birth control pill coverage for female employees and their eligible family members. At the time, many insurance companies provided that coverage as an additional rider to the basic healthcare package.
Wall’s counterparts on the county board – all men – discussed eliminating birth control pill coverage as a cost saving measure. Wall objected, and dug a little deeper into drug costs as a whole for county employees. She asked for, and obtained, a list of all of the prescription drugs, and their associated costs, that had been paid for by the county in the previous year.
The number one drug cost to St. Clair County?
That’s right. The little blue pill that helps men with erectile dysfunction. The county was paying more for Viagra than for birth control pills.
When she brought that information to her next meeting, the board very readily determined that maybe keeping the birth control pill coverage was not such a bad idea after all.
This is why it is important for women to serve in public office. As a female, Wall knew how important birth control pills are to women. She acknowledged that her male counterparts were not trying to be discriminatory toward women, but they didn’t think about the birth control pill issue the way a woman would.
Without Wall’s presence on the board that year, birth control pill coverage for employees would have ended at that point in time.
People often tease me and ask, “Why celebrate Blue Water Woman of the Year? Why not celebrate Blue Water Man of the Year, or Blue Water People of the Year?”
I take the time to celebrate women’s accomplishments with this issue of the magazine each year because it is important to call attention to women’s achievements in order to inspire other women and girls to achieve their own hopes, dreams and goals.
And it is important to recognize the women, like Pamela Wall, who make a difference every day of their lives just by calling attention to the details that others in her position might have overlooked.
It is important to celebrate women. It is important to elect women into office so we have a seat at the decision-making table. It is important to listen to women’s voices. They matter. They change the world for the better every single day.