While the number of women in the U.S. Congress is not expected to change significantlyonce all the votes are counted from last month’s election, several women will make history by joining that body. The U.S. Senate will add Catherine Cortez Masto, the first Latina senator; Tammy Duckworth, the first female senator to have seen combat and only the second Asian-American senator; and Kamala Harris, the first Indian-American senator and the second African-American woman to serve in the Senate. The House of Representatives will also welcome Pramila Jayapal and Stephanie Murphy, female members of South-Asian descent.
Other election victors include Kate Brown, Oregon’s new governor, and Ilhan Omar, elected to Minnesota’s state legislature. Mrs. Omar, who spent four years at a Kenyan refugee camp before migrating to the United States, will be the country’s first Somali-American lawmaker. Describing her win, she said, “This was a victory for that 8-year-old in that refugee camp…. This was a victory for every person that’s been told they have limits on their dreams.”
According to the Center for American Women and Politics, women will make up less than 20 percent of the next Congress, with 21 of the 100 Senate seats and 83 of the House’s 435 seats. While these latest additions will not erase the gender disparity, they are welcome and a step in the right direction. At a time when many see Hillary Clinton’s loss as a setback for women in politics, these women, all Democrats, serve as symbols of hope within the party. In coming elections, we hope to see more women leaders emerge—on both sides of the aisle.