In the United States, women are underrepresented in government at all levels. In 2019, though women made up roughly 50% of the population, they held only 28.9% of state legislatures, and 23.7% of US Congress seats. Sadie Chamberlain, a 2019 American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation senator, believes that programs like ALA Girls Nation could help more young women develop the skills and confidence they need to change that norm.
“This program encourages young women not to second guess themselves or apologize for their opinions,” Sadie said.
“It reminds us that if you have something to say, you should say it, and the more we can learn about our government, the more we can give ourselves a more equal and inclusive role in it.”
For Sadie, a recent high school graduate with mild cerebral palsy, this empowered sense of self was life changing. She was able to speak with Vermont state senators about the policies she believed in at ALA Vermont Girls State and had the opportunity to present a mock bill to her peers from around the country at ALA Girls Nation.
“The amount of respect and dignity I received, despite my physical limitations, reminded me that should I choose to pursue a path in government, that I can do so confidently because of the power that ALA Girls Nation gave me,” Sadie said.
For all of the opportunities and memories made at ALA Girls Nation, Sadie took away the philosophy that power is in the collective. Though an individual can inspire the collective, Sadie said that working together is one of the most important disciplines she learned throughout her time in the program.
She hopes to carry this notion into her studies as she pursues a degree in psychology at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont. Sadie believes psychology and the law are intertwined, and that her psychological knowledge could make a positive impact and enhance the quality of government policies.
Without generous gifts to the American Legion Auxiliary Foundation from dedicated donors, Sadie never would have been able to experience ALA Girls Nation. But #BecauseofGivingTuesday, she knows she is able to make an impact, thanks to the ALA Girls Nation program, which empowered her to add her voice to important conversations.