A new milestone has recently been achieved for women in our country. Recently elected Kamala Harris is the first ever female Vice President of the United States of America. History was made on Jan. 20, 2021 when Harris was inducted into the White House as our country’s next vice president. For years now, women have made strides to achieve a higher status of equality with their male peers, and yet another milestone has just been reached for the community.
As of last year, only 126 of the 535 seats of the 116th United States Congress are held by women. That is only 23.6 percent of all of Congress. In the statewide elective executive offices, of 311 available positions, only 90 are occupied by women. As for the state legislatures positions, 520 women hold 1,972 of the state senate seats and 1,640 of the 5,411 state house seats.
There is still a lot that has to improve for women within the realm of politics. However, many of the women who do hold political positions in our country have put forth a great deal of effort and work to better our country.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama undoubtedly went above and beyond in her role as first lady. The Harvard Law School graduate served as an exemplary advocate for healthy lifestyles, service members and female education. One of Obama’s most notable actions as first lady was when she partnered with Refinery29 on Women’s International Day back in 2018. During this partnership, young women from Nepal, Ghana, Guatemala and Chicago exchanged their life stories. Unlike any other first lady, Obama even went as far as to promote healthy eating for young children by being featured on the Disney Channel, encouraging viewers to stay healthy by being active and eating lots of fruits of vegetables. Obama even went on to write her very own memoir, “Becoming,” which became a bestseller.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is another very influential political figure. Ocasio-Cortez is a member of the United States House of Representatives from New York’s 14th district. At the age of 29, Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman to serve in the United States Congress. Being the youngest woman to ever serve in Congress, Ocasio-Cortez exemplifies that you do not have to be of a certain age to serve as a member of our country’s Congress. Ocasio-Cortez was also able to defeat Joe Crowley, who was a 10-term incumbent. In addition to how successful Ocasio-Cortez became at such a young age, she is also an advocate for many phenomenal causes and movements. Overall, the platforms Ocasio-Cortez advocates for are progressive platforms such as medicare for all, tuition-free public college, a federal jobs guarantee, a Green New Deal and abolishing the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcements (ICE).
In October of 2020, Ocasio-Cortez hosted a Twitch stream of the very popular game “Among Us,” along with some very famous gamers including DrLupo and mxmtoon. Ocasio-Cortez did yet another streaming event with Twitch the following November. I found this to be a great event and opportunity put together by Ocasio-Cortez. From both streaming events, $200,000 was raised. This money went towards food pantries, eviction defense legal aid and community support organizations. Through this event, Ocasio-Cortez was able to bring a group of people together virtually, while also raising money for such good causes.
Coming in as the second youngest woman ever elected into Congress is Representative Elise Stefanik. Stefanik was very distraught about the GOP’s small and shrinking number of women in Congress. As a woman myself, I was very happy to hear that this was an issue Stefanik was passionate about and spoke for. In a tweet dating back to December of 2018, Stefanik expressed how she will “continue speaking out about the crisis level of GOP women in Congress and will try to lead and change that by supporting strong GOP women candidates through my leadership PAC.”
It is nice to hear, and read, that the disparity of women in politics, specifically Congress, does not go unseen by other women holding congressional positions. During her four years in the House, Stefanik not only spoke out about GOP women candidates and increasing the number of women in Congress, but she also voted to loosen gun control, repeal Obamacare and expand Federal Pell grants for low-income students. While Stefanik did have very strong Repubican-leaning views, she supported women in Congress and made strides to further the number of women holding positions in Congress.
Women have come a long way in our country in regards to politics. While women do still only represent a miniscule percentage of the population within Congress, I do believe that women will continue to see an increase in those numbers, especially now, with Harris as our country’s newly inducted vice president.