College Student Launches The “Madam President” Project

By Lisa Crocco

 

Image courtesy of Whoopie Cat

Image courtesy of Whoopie Cat

Encouraging young girls to become involved in politics is essential to the betterment of our country. There have been 70 females who have been heads of state in different countries, but none of them have been in the United States. Women are underrepresented in the U.S. political world and until there is the first female president many think equality will not be reached.

One young, ambitious woman is taking a stand and helping encourage girls to aim for a career in politics. Jessie Garber, a senior English and Political Science double major at Illinois State University is writing a children’s book titled “Madam President” about how girls can’t be what they can’t see. The book follows the life of Madam President similar to that of a childhood princess story.
I was fortunate enough to interview Jessie about this exciting and important project.

Tell us a little bit about the “Madam President” writing, fundraising and publishing process?

I’m about three-quarters of the way through with the writing the manuscript, and it follows a day in the life of Madam President. Essentially, I’m trying to break down [the presidential] duties to their simplest level–one that 4 to 8-year-olds will understand–which can be challenging, but I think it’s something girls should learn about early on so they have the opportunity to gain interest in public service at its truest definition. Thanks to contributions from friends, family, and support from people from different areas around the globe, we are nearly halfway to our goal of raising $4,631; this is the exact cost of the Children’s Advanced Book publishing package from the self-publishing site Createspace.com. This package includes everything from copy editing, to providing illustrators, and even giving the book an ISBN number and placing it for sale on Amazon!

After the book is published, I want to sell it in bulk to classrooms, entire schools, libraries, or after school programs. Most importantly, I will be donating 100% of any and all proceeds from the sale of the book to certain nonprofit organizations that support young girls, chosen by those who supported the project!

What inspired you to write “Madam President”?

My all-time hero is Amy Poehler, and I follow a movement she co-founded called Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, which is an online network that aims to empower young girls to know that they can change the world by being themselves. They share stories about how women and girls are making a difference in their communities by using their passions to inspire others. One of the stories they shared was about the new company Goldie Blox, who makes toys that inspire girls to become engineers. I was really inspired by this story and the company, and I started thinking to myself, ‘I wish there was something of that nature that could inspire girls to become politicians,’ since politics and government are passions close to my heart–which at first seemed like a silly thought, but then I started to think about all of the princess books I read as a child. My favorite book followed a day in the life of Princess Jasmine and it was a really simple book, but I think it had such an impact on who I was and my interests. That’s when I decided if girls were able to read about a day in the life of Madam President, as opposed to princesses, they could see that a woman can be the President of the United States. I believe this might allow girls to shape their dreams around being a government leader, like many girls form goals of meeting prince charming or being able to sing after reading princess books. I wanted to find a way to show girls that there’s power and value in the way that they think and how they help others, rather than the way they look or what others think of them.

What impact do you hope this will have on young girls, especially girls who wish to have a career in politics?

Honestly, my ultimate goal for this book is that it has a positive impact on even one little girl’s life. If this book inspires even one girl to become a government leader, I will feel that our efforts have done something beneficial for the world. I want any girl who reads this book to see what she can become–because I’m a firm believer that girls can’t be what they can’t see. This is why I want them to see how truly awesome it is to be a leader who is strong, intelligent, and helpful to others. I think it’s crucial for young girls to see these kinds of depictions while they are most vulnerable to images that can shape their identity and dreams for the future; we owe it to these girls to provide depictions of women who work on the very same playing field as men, and do an equally exceptional job. While this book may not inspire every single girl who reads it to become President of the United States, it may help them to form beliefs early on in life that the world appreciates female intelligence and leadership because many people do, but I don’t think girls truly get a chance to see it in many of the books and toys that are currently on the market for them.

As a political science major, my lower level courses are split pretty fairly between male and female students, but once I reached the upper level politics courses, I am typically one of about three to seven females in classes of over twenty students–which is extremely disheartening to me. There are a lot of scholarships for women in math and science, which are definitely much needed, but the higher education system seems to ignore the fact that women make up barely 20% of Congress, or that there are not that many women studying politics–plus, many who do end up changing their minds. My hope is that this book can serve to inspire young girls to fill more of those seats in politics classes and more public offices at all levels–local, state, and federal governments!

How can people help make your dream become a reality?

Any help anyone can provide would be truly appreciated, whether you’re able to donate or whether you can just help spread the word through social media, and passing the project on to friends and family–every effort counts! There is also a survey on the site that allows you to voice your opinion about which girl-empowering organization you think the proceeds from the sale of the book should benefit! Please check it out–we’d love to hear your thoughts!

To keep up with the book and Jessica’s goal, please check out the following social media websites.

Project Website: http://igg.me/at/madampresident
Twitter account: https://twitter.com/MadamPresBook
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/madampresidentbook

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to reach out to Jessie directly at garberjn@gmail.com.