Herseth calls rural S.D. women a resource

Heather Mangan

Heather Mangan

Democratic U.S. House candidate Stephanie Herseth talked to SDSU students about women and their opportunities in rural areas.

Herseth spoke on Mon., March 21 in the Rotunda. Her speech was part of a series in honor of Women’s History Month.

Dr. April Brooks, a women’s’ studies instructor, said it was an honor to celebrate the month with a speech from a woman congressional candidate.

Herseth, a former SDSU instructor, said she enjoyed the opportunity to speak during Women’s History Month.

“I am delighted that Dr. Brooks invited me here to speak during an important month,” Herseth said.

She began discussing the importance of small and rural communities.

She called them the backbone of our society. However, these rural communities are going to be forced to modernize in the future, she said.

“Rural women are South Dakota’s best untapped resource,” she said.

The small number of rural women on executive boards, city councils, and co-op boards is surprising to Herseth.

She believes local women are the best people to be involved in these organizations.

“I think that women in ag goes beyond the managing and operating of the farm,” Herseth said.

She said most who serve on local boards are retired men. Herseth would like to see more women involved in rural politics.

“Women in politics are vastly unrepresented in local South Dakota,” Herseth said.

Local women should bring their experience and education to their hometowns, she said.

There are a lot of women who would be good leaders of the rural communities but nobody reaches out to them, Herseth said. Women are not recruited or encouraged to be leaders.

“Women in rural areas view those who sit on county commission and city councils as obstacles,” she said.

Herseth told the audience to support and recruit one another.

“Don’t wait for a woman to put her name on the ballot,” she said.

“We have to believe in ourselves as South Dakotans.”