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  • Natalie Bennett

Newly-elected women of color create hope for representation

After the loss of what would have been the first female president, the role of women in government continues to be an uphill battle. Even though strides have been made on the congressional level for female representation, “the number of women in both chambers will remain unchanged, at 104, and the number of female governors will fall to five from six.” The underrepresentation of women in roles of leadership is a serious issue that has plagued America since its conception. This lack of representation is extremely prevalent in congress because women make up 51 percent of America yet only 19 percent of congress. However, progress has been made for women of color in congress. Some stand out leaders include Kamala Harris of California, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada.

Kamala Harris served as California’s Attorney General from 2011 to present. Harris has been breaking the glass ceiling throughout her career in politics, as she was the first female district attorney of San Francisco and first female Attorney General of California. From an Indian mother and Jamaican father, Harris will be the first Indian American senator. Harris has been a harbinger for women’s rights since she was a young girl, and hopes to continue to perpetuate gender equality throughout California and America. Her woman’s rights issues include: abortion, equal pay, sexual assault, human trafficking, and cyber exploitation. Since California is already a frontrunner in progressive women’s rights, it is important to keep the momentum going.

Tammy Duckworth is a Purple Heart war veteran and was appointed by President Obama to be an Assistant Secretary at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. After her experience in the military, Duckworth became a powerful advocate for veterans. As an Illinois senator, Duckworth hopes to grow the economy, “by advocating for small businesses, investing in infrastructure, improving the lives of our Veterans and cutting government waste and fraud.” Chicago native and Boston University freshman Maddie Cohen said, “I was excited to see her name on the ballot because we really need more female representation in Congress. I’m looking forward to seeing what she will accomplish in the next few years.” With a strong focus on veteran affairs and economic growth, Duckworth is expected to be a great asset to Congress.

Catherine Cortez Masto is Nevada’s former Attorney General and will be the nation’s first Latina senator. Some issues that Cortez Masto is passionate about are job creation, trade, protecting seniors and immigration. She hopes to use her senatorial powers to continue to fight for diversity in Nevada and America: “I believe our diversity is our strength. As the first Latina Senator I will use my seat at the table to fight for diversity.” Her focus on trade and diversity will hopefully create important economic and immigration legislation.

Though these three women will hopefully do great things as the face of modern female politicians, there is still a long ways to go. With such limited representation, it’s crucial for girls to have role models to inspire them to become leaders. However, the potential for female leadership becomes thwarted when there is such a current scarcity of female politicians. As Hillary Clinton says, “Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights.” Gender equality is a slow and laborious journey, and the 2016 presidential election proved just how much work still needs to be done. However, the congressional gains made by women are the small battles that are vital to shattering the glass ceiling.

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