2018 has been referred to as the “Year of The Girl.” Although many of us are scratching our heads and saying, “about damn time!” it does fill me with a sense of hope and pride to be living in this time of change. On January 3rd, 2019, the United States Congress rang in the New Year by making history and swearing in a record 127 women.
Of these newly sworn in congresswomen, there are many firsts, including to name a few: the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, the first Native-American woman elected to Congress, Tennessee’s first female Senator, the first Muslim women in Congress. What a time to be alive indeed! If 2018 was the “Year of The Girl,” then I’m totally onboard to see what these women do in 2019.
This month I’ve chosen to highlight some of our newly elected Congresswomen. As the United States makes history with this new wave of representation, it is important to not forget what it took for us to get here and how far was still must go.
Boss Babes of the Month may be an understatement, these women are paving the way for future generations, hopefully breaking down prejudice walls, and helping the sunrise on a new day in this modern world.
A History Making Congress: 2019 is the year of our most diverse Congress. Here is a highlight of some of the historic firsts in Congress
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman elected into Congress at 29 years old. The Democrat from New York gained buzz after upsetting Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley in 2018. She has helped raise awareness for many progressive priorities, including her stance on abolishing ICE, addressing climate threats, and approaching campaign financing differently by choosing to walk away from any big money donors.
Rashida Taib (Michigan) and Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) pave the way as the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Before these congresswomen were sworn in, The US Congress had only two lawmakers who identified as Muslim. The proportion of Congress who identifies as Christian (more than 90%), has not changed much since the 1960’s. Religious diversity aside, it is my hope that with these two women now in a position to help pass new legislation, our culture can begin to break down walls and preconceived notions that we’ve built up around Islam.
Marsha Blackburn is Tennessee’s first female Senator. This first for Tennessee is a reminder of how far we still have to go. The fact that there are still states who have not had women representatives elected (Arizona, Iowa, and Mississippi also elected their first Congresswomen in 2108), speaks volumes in itself. With that said, Republican Representative, Marsha Blackburn is set to shake things up by being involved in judicial nominations and work in women’s issues like the Violence Against Women Act.
Jahana Hayes (Connecticut) and Ayanna Presley (Massachusetts), are the first black Congresswomen from their respective states. Hayes, who also won the National Teacher of the Year award in 2016, was inspired to run by the frustration she felt over the United States public education system. Rather than being angry over this broken system, she decided to take action and make a change herself.
Sylvia Garcia and Veronica Escobar represent Texas as the State’s first Latina Congresswomen. Texas has a Latino population of nearly 40% and has never elected any Hispanic women to Congress until 2018. Escobar feels passionately about her opportunity to represent the boarder community. Garcia, a former city controller, looks forward to continuing her fight for working families, immigrant justice, women’s rights and equality for all (see article from NBC News).
Whether you stand to the left, right or somewhere in the middle, I think it’s safe to say we can all be inspired by the wave of diversity hitting Congress. What this means for little girls growing up and learning to dream this modern world, what this means for minority children, children of immigrant families, and other underrepresented groups cannot really be put into words. This wave of diversity brings about a feeling…a feeling of hope, promise, and passion for a better future. I’m ready to ride this wave.
To learn more about the women referenced in this post, and others who were elected to congress, please reference the below articles.