Amajla Tricic, News Editor
A record number of women won seats in the House during the 2018 midterm elections.
Over 100 have been elected, including Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, the first Native American women voted into Congress. Rashida Tlab and Ilhan Omar, two Muslim women, and Veronica Escoba, a Hispanic woman, were also elected to Congress.
With such a diverse group of first-time representatives, women in government have the chance to reshape the leadership of America, but the biggest concern is whether those elected will have equal representation in the office.
Hermina Garic, an administrative intern for the Womyn’s Resource Center, is hopeful for the future of women in office but knows that this change will also come with difficulties.
“I think the real test of having a historic representation of women in Congress will be if they continue to pave the way for those that come after them,” Garic said.
Garic stated that this year’s election looked similar to the 1992 midterm elections, which saw a historic number of women elected into office. However, she wants people to remain cautious and sustain the effort.
“What I am proud of is the diverse representation of women across the nation,” Garic said. “We not only see women, but we also see women of color, and that’s significant in the United States at this point in time.”
What she finds most important is to pay attention to whether or not structural violence will occur against women that have just been elected into office.
“It’s one thing to be elected into an institution that has failed to uphold the basic rights of many citizens without immense pressure by these populations, it’s another to be inside of that institution and transform it,” she said. “That’s the toughest part. I have faith in these women, but I am also wary of the white male-dominated structure that has shown historically to use strategies to suppress their voices.”
Though there may be hardships to face for the electees, Danielle Martin, president of Women In a New Direction, wants to see everyone embrace the empowerment of women. She believes the women in office will pave the way for future female leaders.
“Women breaking barriers like never before is an inspiring movement that will encourage women and girls all over to push for greater representation in our government,” Martin said. “I think it is imperative that we become more engaged in policy reform as these women who hold positions of power advocate for us.”
Martin stated that being able to see representation in the office promotes a feeling of inclusion, respect, and appreciation and that it is refreshing to see women finally being credited for their work.
“Women have been pioneers in this nation long before they were allotted positions of power, and women will continue to be pioneers,” Martin said. “The future of opportunities in government for women is promising and well-deserved. Women have fought for every advancement they have earned.”
Sherri Cash, a professor of history, sees the victory of women taking over the office but also knows there is always room for improvement.
“I think we have to keep going, and maybe this will normalize having women in office,” Cash said.
Cash admitted there will still be challenges that the women electees will face, using former President Barack Obama as an example.
“When he was elected, everyone said, ‘OK, now a black man is in the White House, it’s the end of racism,’ which it is absolutely not,” Martin said. “I think this is along the same line; these women are going to have to be very astute in their political maneuvers and never forget that that can go away the next election.”
Martin stated that no one knows for certain what will happen in the next election and the rhetoric that will come out about how these women could potentially be attacked. But the most important thing is to pay attention to the changes being made and the policies that are being brought up.
“We’re still in the minority, and I think we have to be vigilant about this,” Martin said. “Women in the electorate have to continue to speak out and participate in the process and go out and vote.”