By Yana Obiekwe
With the 2018 Midterm elections coming to a closes, it is always nice to reflect on what progress in change, if any, has been made. The United States has seen a great deal of change in their demographics in Congress across the country, but perhaps the newest group that is rapidly emerging is women.
From the first Muslim women to the first Native American women elected into Congress, the 2018 elections have been successful for this otherwise underrepresented group.
Just in 1987-1989, there were only 25 women holding seats in the House of Representatives and Senate combined. Fast forward to 30 years later and that number has quadrupled to 107 in the 2017-2019 term. While women are making progress, I can’t help but think on the speed of things. It is 2018 and women are still breaking “first time” barriers. Women were granted the right to vote in 1920, and yet their highest number for representation in Congress for over 60 years has been 25.
There are 535 members in Congress.
Women represent 50% of the U.S. population.
How can an entity that was created to make laws NOT adequately represent the people it is governing? How can it truly serve as the voice of the people and the states in the federal government if those that make up the body do not reflect the citizens of the United States?
These past midterm elections have proven just what persistence and diligence in the hands of an oppressed and/or underrepresented group can bring about. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar marked their spots in history books by becoming the first Muslim women in congress. Democratic ticket winners, Sharice Davids and Deb Haalands, became the first Native American women elected in congress, going on to serve in Kansas’ third and New Mexico’s first congressional district, respectively.
The wide range of diversity within the group of women elected this year is inspiration on its own. Just within approximately 20% of congresswomen emerging in the next term, there is a little bit of everyone being represented. From the first openly gay person in congress, to the now youngest representative in office, women are reflecting this growing and changing nation more and more each day.
Unfortunately, not every state saw such great advances. In Georgia, Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams conceded to Republican opponent, Brian Kemp, after a long, controversial race. Abrams would have gone on to be the first ever African-American female governor in the United States.
But, do not forget, Abrams is Georgia’s first black Democratic Party nominee for governor. If there is one thing to take away from her unique run, it is that women may always be underestimated in their ability to hold office or any leadership position; however, they will always prove otherwise, and continue to gain more and more success in the near future.