Whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent, the 2020 election has made history and will pave the way for women to become political leaders. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is the first woman, African-American and South Asian-American to hold this position in the United States.
Before becoming vice president-elect, she was a senator for the state of California, and became the second African-American woman and first South Asian-American to do so. She was also the first woman and first African-American to serve as California’s Attorney General.
It’s no secret that Harris has made history within her state, but Nov. 7 marked a historical day for the whole country when it was announced that she would be the new vice president-elect.
“Harris’s election is a really big deal, because representation matters. It matters that we elect women. It matters that we elect women of color,” Chair of the English Department Susie Sisson said. Sisson remembers watching Geraldine Ferraro (1984) and Sarah Palin (2008), the first two women candidates for vice president, run and has always hoped to see a woman elected to this position in the White House.
Sisson said she believes in the importance of female representation in politics because 51 percent of the U.S. population is composed of women, and says that they should have a voice in making important decisions. In fact, about 74 percent of 168 Marian students who responded to the Network survey feel more represented in having a woman in a high place of government, and 86 percent say it’s necessary to have women in these positions.
“When young people see women in positions of power and authority, they know that anything is possible. They know that they, too, could hold positions of power and authority,” Sisson said.
Students from Marian, Duchesne and Mercy had the opportunity to watch a panel presentation hosted by Sisson in place of the postponed conference for women’s voting rights. Speakers included Sara Howard, Nebraska State Senator, Alisha Shelton, former US Senate candidate, Theresa Thibodeau, chair of the Douglas County Republican Party and Katie Waldo, Head of Community Impact, We the Action. These women shared their experiences and words of advice to the all-girls high schools in honor of women’s voting rights and the importance of women in politics.
In addition to these political figures, Nebraska Senator Megan Hunt said she feels having a woman vice-president is exciting and long overdue. “The United States should have reached this milestone decades ago,” Hunt said.
Hunt represents the eighth legislative district in Omaha consisting of Dundee, Benson and Keystone. For the past 15 years, she has worked as a small business owner in Dundee and is a partner at a political consulting firm. In the past, she has started a co-working space, cofounded a boutique and established a nonprofit to end sexual assault and harrassment in bars and clubs.
Hunt emphasizes the importance of representation in government saying that the legislature is mainly represented by straight, white men over the age of 50. “Legislative bodies at all levels of government—whether that’s at the state, local, or federal level—work better when they reflect the identities and experiences of the people they serve,” Hunt said. She recognizes the efforts of these men, but feels that, “there is no substitute for personal experience when it comes to understanding the challenges of a population.”
Senior Cleo Wear is thrilled to be old enough to understand what having a woman as vice president means for the country. “I think this changes a lot because young girls will grow up with the reality of having women in such high offices, and it will be a norm for them that women can accomplish anything men can,” Wear said.
Wear said that it’s vital to have female representatives and for female voices to be heard. She said she feels Marian girls are outspoken, like Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and are capable of defending what they believe in. “I think Marian girls, no matter their party or beliefs, will find a connection with Kamala and be inspired by her,” Wear said.
Hunt advises women aspiring to work in male dominant fields to not be too competitive with each other but rather help each other. “Whenever I make it through a door, I don’t let it close behind me. I hold it open for the people coming after me. If you try to hoard success, you lose it. It will come to you if you share it,” Hunt said