The Feminine in Politics: This Woman is On Fire


femineJuly 10, 2014

By: Rebecca Ruvalcaba

The girl on fire may be popularly known as Jennifer Lawrence from her role as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games franchise. Another chica en fuego may be known by her empowering song and hit single “Girl on Fire,” the liberating Alicia Keys, my friends. All of my peers have always talked about celebrities being the girls on fire, but what about the women on fire in politics? I have a politician in mind that I look up to and admire, even though I may never go into politics. At times, politics can be very confusing and complicated for my constantly absorbing brain. Either way, let’s dive right into it.

Let us all take a trip to the 17th Congressional District of Illinois, which Congresswoman Cheri Bustos represents in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“From the time I was a little girl, I’d just always been naturally curious. And I was raised in a family that… would just get really worked up about inequities and unfairness.” – Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois.

Yes, Cheri Bustos is a woman in politics which, in my opinion, is on fire! I know, I know. I’m not even a constituent in her district. To be honest, I live across the country. Though, Representative Cheri Bustos did leave an impression on me when I visited Washington D.C. this summer for the 2014 Girl Up Leadership Summit. Let me be semi-serious for a second, after I met her, I wanted to be her new best friend.

Representative Bustos stopped my lobbying group in the middle of the sidewalk next to the Longworth House Office Building. Most likely she noticed there were 7 girls conquering Capitol Hill in matching turquoise shirts with a Girl Up logo slapped on the front. Who wouldn’t? She asked us questions about Girl Up, why we were lobbying on Capitol Hill that day, and how she could lend her help! Of course, we all joined in answering her questions and made sure she had all of the information she needs to help support our cause of counting all girls, no matter where they were born. There was definitely a huge plus that came from this encounter: we all mastered our elevator pitch in that very moment.


#AdvocacySelfie on the sidewalk with Rep. Cheri Bustos! Yes, I see that photo bomb in the background.

While speaking to Congresswoman Bustos, I noticed through her words that she was all about empowering girls and women, which was amazing. She made sure we all knew about the opportunities we have in connection with Capitol Hill and the House of Representatives. Opportunities such as internships in Washington D.C., your home district, and even the White House. You know where I’m going to be interning in my college years (Hint: It’ll be in Washington D.C. at a house that looks like a blank canvas).

I loved speaking with this wonderful woman, she even made sure we memorized the statistic which states only 17% of congress comprises of female politicians. The reason being, I think, she would probably like all 7 of us to consider pursuing a career in politics; and I’m guessing she would love all of us to become congresswomen one day, just like her. This got me thinking: from my knowledge, I know that about 51% of the U.S. population is comprised of women, so why is there less than 20% of women represented in congress? It seems way off to me, I guess that’s why Congresswoman Bustos wants more girls to spark their interest in politics.

Obviously, if you haven’t noticed, Representative Cheri Bustos knows what’s up and is a kick-butt politician. Kick-butt in the best way, of course. She is definitely a girl on fire, just like Jennifer Lawrence and Alicia Keys. Congresswoman Bustos just happens to be a female politician and not an actor or singer. Though, I might add Cheri Bustos was once a journalist before she went into politics! Talk about career change. This is why I dedicate “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys to the fabulous Il Representative Cheri Bustos.

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