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‘Having experienced sexism firsthand, I want to be a voice for respect in politics’

A former Miss America and local news anchor, Mallory Hagan found fame challenging sexism in the beauty pageant world. Now Hagan – a Democrat – is running for a congressional seat in Alabama

A former Miss America and local news anchor, Mallory Hagan found fame challenging sexism in the beauty pageant world. Now Hagan – a Democrat – is running for a congressional seat in Alabama

Women live in a different America than men do. We still don’t have paid maternity leave, and pay disparities and sexual harassment are part of women’s everyday experiences. There’s just so much wrong with the way we govern when it comes to family, children and happiness in general. Women will bring fresh perspectives, and that will mean better policies for everyone.

That doesn’t have to be a partisan thing. On the campaign trail, we talk about kitchen table issues – everyone wants to wake up with a roof over their head, to work for a living wage, to take care of their family, for their children to get a good education, and to be able to go to the doctor when they’re sick. Those are common causes, no matter which side of the aisle you’re on.

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We need leaders who understand those shared goals, and the need for respectful conversations about how to get there.

It’s OK to disagree on policy, but not to act like the president does and call people names on national TV. As Miss America, I worked to be a role model for people of all parties, and that’s something I want to do as a politician too.

Being a former Miss America, I still have a lot of online influence with young people. I know that they’re watching me run, in person or online, and thinking ‘Hey, if she can do this, then I can do it too.’

I’ve shown other young women that they have a place in politics

I’ve already met people who tell me they decided to run for city council, or mayor, or their local school board because of my campaign. That means that whatever happens in November, I’ve already won.

I’ve shown other young women that they have a place in politics, and that they have as much right to be in this realm as anyone else.”

The facts:
  • 101

    It’s 101 years since Jeanette Rankin of Montana – a Republican – became the first woman in Congress, but women remain under-represented
  • 22

    Female lawmakers make up just 22 per cent of the Senate and 19 per cent of the House. (By contrast, 40 per cent of House Democrats and 87 per cent of House Republicans are white men)
  • 476

    This November, at least 476 women are running in House races, smashing the previous record set in 2012, when 298 women ran for the chamber

At least 530 women are running in House and Senate races in the US midterm elections in November, smashing the previous record of 334. Partly driven by the #MeToo movement, their efforts could determine both control of Congress, and the fate of Donald Trump’s presidency. In our #TheCandidates series, we meet some of them

Images: Valenci Adair photography

Read more: Meet #TheCandidates

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