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Women's history month: local councilwomen discuss challenges in politics

Posted at 9:08 PM, Mar 09, 2022

Back in 2020, women broke barriers at the ballot box and as political donors.

On the federal level, women make up 27 percent of all members of congress, which is the highest amount on record. While women have made tremendous strides in politics there is still a long way to go, especially on the local level.

From Harker Heights to Killeen, you'll find two powerhouse Councilwomen Melissa Brown and Lynda Nash. Brown a councilwoman in Killeen and Nash is a representative in Harker Heights.

However, before they took the plunge into politics, doubt created a mountain.

"I know a lot of things have held me back I probably would’ve gotten into this a lot sooner headed not been for fear had it not been for the world telling me this is something that I shouldn’t be doing," Brown said.

Nash said, "If I went back to 10-year-old Lynda, I wish I could meet her. When I said I want to be President and my teacher told me you’re going to have to pick something else and I believed that."

The mountain Brown and Nash created was in fact a reality. Women account for 51 percent of the population but when it comes to politics, they make up 31 percent of state legislators, 30 percent of statewide elected executives of any kind, and 25 percent of mayors in cities with populations over 30,000, according to the Center for American Politics and Women at Rutgers University.

When it comes to equality in politics in the U.S., the United States trails Mexico and Canada. According to the World Economic Forum, of 153 countries in the world, the United States ranks 53rd for gender equality in politics.

Brown is now in her second term on the Killeen City Council. She says she spends between 60 to 80 hours a week reviewing material for meetings and being involved in the community, on top of being a wife and mom of two. When she first began her political career, she said she felt some pushback.

"The most challenging part about being a woman in politics in Texas at first was getting people to actually take me seriously. I think we still have a stigma around women where we’re more emotional we’re going to act on emotion or we’re just not as educated on the facts as our male counterparts," Brown said. "Women are just as capable women are just as knowledgeable women are just as worthy and deserving, we bring a whole different perspective."

The United Nations for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women reveals the journey to equality when it comes to women in politics will be a long one, projecting gender equality across political offices won't be reached for another century.

"When we have a seat at the table, and we can bring a different point of reference that’s how you shape how America looks how your local election looks," said Nash.

Nash is serving her first term on the Harker Heights City Council. As an Army Veteran, Nash said she strives to put the community first and connect with people regardless of party affiliation.

Nash said, "If we start off on the common ground and that’s humanity and we have respect for each other then all of that other stuff doesn’t matter. It’s OK to disagree, but you need to be respectful of each other’s ideas and what they feel like. At some point, I pray we don’t have to have these kinds of conversations about women in politics or women of color. I hope that it will be an equal playing field but right now it’s not because it’s not that’s why we need to talk about it that’s why it’s important."

The two both take immense pride in serving their community and inspiring the next generation of female leaders.