Story by Anna Johns, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy Ty Forquer
On Jan. 20 the nation watched as President-elect Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. Beside him stood Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
Biden promised to select a female as his running mate in early March last year, saying, “There are a number of women to be president tomorrow.” He kept his promise, and in August he announced his former rival Harris would be his running mate. She is the daughter of a Jamaican American father and Indian American mother and is now the first Black woman and the first Asian American to step into the role of Vice President.
In her acceptance speech last November, Vice President Harris took the stage and thanked her mother and the generations of women who have paved the way for this moment. “Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all. Including the Black women who are often, too often, overlooked, but so often proved they are the backbone of our democracy.”
Vice President Harris’s inauguration impacted many women across the country, including many young girls of color. Ty Forquer was glad he got to share this moment with his five-year-old daughter, Karina.
“It’s beautiful that she gets to live in a world where a woman can be Vice President and a person of color can be president,” said Forquer. “We still have a lot of work to do to build a truly equitable society, but it’s exciting to see so many barriers being torn down for girls who look like our daughter.”
This year a record-breaking 52 women of color were elected into the 117th U.S. Congress according to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP). There are many new additions to Congress this year including Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who is the first Black woman and first woman of color in Congress from Missouri. Rep. Marilyn Strickland, D-Wash., also made history as the first Black and Korean American woman in Congress from Washington.
Even with these recent milestones, women are still under-represented. Though 51% of the American population is female, women only make up 26.5% of Congress. In the House of Representatives women only hold 27.1% of the seats, and in the Senate, woman only hold 24% of the seats. In all three branches, an overwhelming percentage of women holding office are democratic.
As more women are elected, policies are expected to change. Studies have shown that female politicians prioritize different concerns than male politicians. Women are more likely to focus on issues such as education, climate change, minimum wage, and criminal justice reform, while men are more likely to focus on issues such as taxes, debt, defense spending, and terrorism.
As more women are elected into office, other women are inspired to run for office in the future. As Vice President Harris said, “While I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”