As many of us know, March is Women’s History Month. As a woman, a Black woman to be exact, these 31 days (along with the previous 28 days) are incredibly special to me. It is a time for elevating and celebrating the work of our ancestors, while simultaneously uplifting our current trailblazers. For my friends and I, this especially reigns true when we look at women and politics. According to the House of Representatives website, In the 229 years since the creation of the United States Congress there have been 12,444 members of Congress. According to that same website, only 327 of these individuals have been women. In a similar scope, since 1872 only 14 women have run for president.
You may be thinking, “Okay, so much for uplifting and encouraging,” but I promise we’re getting there! The women who ran and the women who have served, no matter if we agree or disagree with all of their politics, have paved ways for future generations. Without Jeanette Rankin, the first woman to serve in Congress, we may not have seen Susan Collins, Nancy Pelosi, Tammy Duckworth, or (a personal favorite) Kamala Harris elected into office. By the same token, if it weren’t for Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president, or Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to serve in Congress and the first woman to run for a major political party’s presidential nomination, we might not have seen Hillary Clinton go as far as she did in 2016. Moment of silence for what almost was.
“Do not get me wrong, this is not a piece saying that America has reached its final destination when it comes to gender diversity in politics, but to ignore how we’ve progressed, especially during Women’s History Month?”
Because of these women, and women like them, there is an entire generation of girls – and boys – who will see female public officials as normal and not as a novelty. When a twelve-year-old tells her family or friends that she wants to run for office it won’t seem as un-achievable. Hell, if any of my close girlfriends tell me they want to run for office it won’t seem as un-achievable! We were fortunate enough to be born into a time where women are told pretty early on that they can do anything, and the world has started to reflect that.Do not get me wrong, this is not a piece saying that America has reached its final destination when it comes to gender diversity in politics, but to ignore how we’ve progressed, especially during Women’s History Month? Shameful. For all of those women who want to run for office but still feel like idea itself is unnerving, you’re on the right track. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female elected to serve as the president of Liberia once said “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
A truth written by Arielle Baldwin.