There Are 100 Women In US Congress For The First Time In History!

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Well the midterm elections are over, and for some, seeing the Republicans take control of the Senate with majority seats may have been a disappointment, but a change might be just what’s needed in US politics. Time will tell. But for women in politics, it was a huge win, because for the first time in US history, females have hit triple digits in Congress. That’s right, we now have 100 women concurrently serving as congresswomen, and they are certainly a diverse group!

The women will officially be sworn in in January 2015 when Congress resumes again, but there is one woman who gets an early start. Democrat Alma Adams of North Carolina. Before this election, there were only 79 female members of Congress, and 20 female senators.

“Alma Adams is a trailblazer and champion for women and families who is now poised to make history as the 100th woman serving in Congress,” said Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, a progressive PAC dedicated to electing women who support abortion rights.

“Working families need leaders like Alma, who will unapologetically fight to protect women’s reproductive healthcare access and economic security. And with the help of the EMILY’s List community – now more than three million members strong – Alma is on her way to igniting change in Congress.”

Speaking of women’s reproductive rights, one of the most contentious bills on the agenda for the midterms was the Personhood measure, known as Amendment 67, that would have granted personhood rights to developing fetuses from the moment of fertilization. It would have amended the state’s criminal code to include fetuses in the category of “human” and “child.” Supporters of the measure said it would have more harshly prosecuted someone who caused a pregnant woman to lose her baby in a situation like a drunk driving accident.

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Opponents warned that it also would have criminalized women who have abortions, without exception for rape or incest. Both Colorado and North Dakota voters rejected this measure with a considerable margin, showing that there are many people who don’t believe it is the state’s right to decide what decisions a woman makes with her body.

Over in Utah, Representative Mia Love made history on her own by becoming the first black Republican woman ever elected to congress. The 39 year old has created an important milestone for the political party that has in the past struggled to nominate and elect diverse candidates. She is the daughter of Haitian immigrant parents, and was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY.

The fact that Congress is making progress for women and diversity is a big deal, as there are no women of color currently in the Senate. Mia was raised Catholic but later became part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints after college. Her presence in Congress will hopefully allow more women who also defy stereotypes to know they too can run AND win.

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A fact sheet from Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics show the number of females in Congress from 1917 all the way to 2014, and website Salon compiled the info into a graph to give you an idea just how much progress has been made. Throughout history, 251 women have served in the House, while 33 women have served in the Senate.

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Another historic win for woman was by Elise Stefanik, newly elected Republican Congresswoman from New York. At 30, she is the youngest woman to ever be elected into Congress, and she’s the first Republican to win the district, which had been held by Democratic Rep. Bill Owens since 1993.

She worked in President George W. Bush’s administration on the Domestic Policy Council and oversaw economic and domestic policy in the chief of staff’s office for Josh Bolten.

Elise is seen as the new “face” for the Republicans as she is a young female, and they have recently been trying to lure in this demographic of voters with their ‘Say Yes To The Candidate’ campaign. Something they are doing must be working, because the results are speaking for themselves.

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In the Senate Republicans only needed 6 seats to win the majority, whereas Democrats needed 17. Midterm elections in a president’s second term typically see a loss of 25 seats for the president’s party, according to NPR, so Democrats shouldn’t feel like all hope is lost. To see a full rundown of the elections state by state, and read about standout bills and measure which were voted upon, including healthcare, marijuana, abortion, minimum wage and gun laws, check out this comprehensive coverage list.

Which ever way you happen to lean politically, we can all agree some major changes need to be made. With the Presidential election happening in a year’s time, hopefully these results will both inspire and encourage all Americans to vote, and for those of you reading this around the world, if you are lucky enough to live in a country where you have the right to vote, we urge you to use it. Remember it is not the politicians who are powerful, it is the voice of the people, and it is our civic duty to raise it.

“Women serve as mentors or leaders for younger women members to pattern themselves after,” said Matthew Wasniewski, editor of congressional report Women in Congress.

“What has to happen is more women need to decide to run, and more needs to happen to get them to make that decision,” said Kathy Kleeman, senior communications officer at the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “In order for that to take place, more women need to be asked to run. Women are not as likely as men to put themselves forward.”

In an interview with former California Senate candidate Barbi Appelquist (D) who plans to run again, she talks about the importance of women in politics and why she is making it her mission to encourage more girls.

“Our voice is underrepresented in the political world. Historically, when women are part of a legislature, issues regarding education, child care, maternal and child health, seniors, community engagement, etc. are debated and often incorporated into legislation. So much more work is needed.”

Here’s to women in politics who are stepping up to the plate, representing the men and women of their districts, with the knowledge that for a country to thrive, it will take men and women working together, not divisively.

We look forward to more portraits like this in the future!

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  1. Pingback: Women Stage Hunger Strike At The White House In Favor Of Immigration Reform

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