Although she’s still a high school junior, Anna Captain has already run a successful political campaign in Washington, D.C. on a platform of political empowerment for women.
The Lake Washington High School student was already involved in leadership roles, serving as the president of the philosophy club, but when she applied for a one-week program in D.C., she said she wasn’t sure she’d make it.
Her efforts paid off, though, and this June she was invited to be one of 65 young women selected to participate from across the country. Captain was in D.C. for a month between the Young Women’s Political Leadership Program and another program at the end of the month she took part in.
Her time in the nation’s political hotbed was exciting.
“Everything that we read about is actually going on and happening there,” she said.
Central to the program was a mock campaign where the group was separated into teams with a candidate, platforms and a support network.
Captain was selected as the candidate, and over the course of the week, worked with her staff to develop and campaign on their ideas for how to get more women involved in politics.
“I kind of just talked about how if women support each other and build each other up and build a network… we could succeed more as a whole,” she said.
At the end of the week, she and her team won the mock election.
She and her team’s work paid off, but even with experience and a clear knack for politics, Captain said there’s still a problem, even at a school level.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m not taken as seriously,” she said.
Captain said in her experience, women who stand on positions or advocate forcefully for their ideas are often labeled as “pushy” or “bossy” while men who do the same are applauded.
According to the Center for American Women and Politics, a startling low percentage of government offices are held by women, from the federal to the local level.
Of the 7,383 state Legislature seats across the country, only 25 percent were held by women, the highest percentage of any category.
Only 20 percent of the 535 Congressional seats are held by women, and of the more than 30,000 mayors in the United States, less than 300 were women.
Captain said she’d like to one day run for office.
“I feel like there’s a lot of people whose voices aren’t being represented right now,” she said.
While in D.C., she also met with Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01), who represents Redmond.
She also attended the Congressional women’s softball game, where reporters and members of Congress squared off against each other.
While she’s focused on politics, Captain said she’s also interested in the media, and had the opportunity to check out the NPR and Washington Post headquarters.
“I’m interested in journalism and how all that works, and just to see it in action was really interesting,” she said.
With another school year on tap, there’s no sign that Captain will be slowing down any time soon.
In addition to the philosophy club, she will be serving as the junior vice president for student leadership and volunteering for Manka Dhingra’s state Legislature campaign.
“I learned how to be a stronger voice, and how to express my opinions in ways that people will understand and want to hear about,” she said.