In the midst of a prolonged and chaotic election cycle, we paused to celebrate the election of Kamala Harris, the first woman, the first woman of color, the first Black person and the first South Asian to be elected vice president of the United States. We also took time to step back and look at the races beyond this historic win that pushed women’s progress closer to 50-50. Women across the country made several gains and moved the dial on representation. The Center for American Women and Politics reported that 134 women (25%) will serve in the 117th Congress, beating the 2019 record of 127 (23.7%). Of those women, 48 (9%) represent women of color, and 22 are non-incumbent winners.
While we have a long way to go to reach 50-50, these gains are still significant, and each win is worth celebrating.
Cori Bush made history on election day as the first Black woman elected to represent Missouri in Congress. Cori was one of at least 115 women of color running for Congress this year. She toppled a political dynasty to get the nomination, and later defeated her Republican rival with more than 75% of the vote. A progressive activist, single mother, nurse, and pastor, ABC News reports that Cori spoke openly on the campaign trail about her struggle with paying taxes and surviving paycheck to paycheck. She has also been outspoken about her experiences facing homelessness and domestic violence at points in her life. She plans to take her lived experience with her to Congress, and her acceptance speech was impassioned, empowering, and move-to-tears inspiring. Running on some of our nation’s most important issues, she said, “this is our moment.” Her win exemplifies the power of having the courage to step outside of our comfort zone, and her victory proves that we’re in this together.
Marilyn Strickland, the former Mayor of Tacoma, Washington will be the first Korean-American woman ever elected to Congress and the first Black woman to represent Washington State at the federal level.
Wins in New Mexico by Deb Haaland, a Democrat, Yvette Herrell, a Republican, and Teresa Leger Fernandez, a Democrat, mean that New Mexico’s entire House delegation will consist of women of color. Ms. Herrell is also the first Republican Native American woman elected to Congress.
Nancy Mace will be the first Republican woman to represent South Carolina in Congress.
Cynthia Lummis, a Republican former congresswoman, will be the first woman to serve in the Senate from Wyoming.
Sarah McBride, elected to the Delaware Senate, will be the first transgender woman State Senator and the nation’s highest-ranking transgender official.
Chrisina Haswood is the youngest legislator elected to the Kansas State House.
The Northern Cheyenne Nation has elected all women for the first time ever as Tribal President, Vice President, and to fill all five open seats on the Tribal Council.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consist of all women for the first time since the board’s inception more than 150 years ago.
Women most often serve from a place of love. Cori Bush said in her acceptance speech that she loves the people who elected her and those she represents, and it is with that love that she will fight for everyone in her district. This is why it’s crucial to get more women serving in public office. That kind of dedication and perspective completely changes how we are governed. It starts in our communities and at the ballot box when we elect women at every level to lead us, to fight for us, and to build a country with a government that works for us all.