Women in Congress

The new faces of American politics who are paving the way for people of all races, gender identities and creeds

Photo by AP.

4 minute read — By Daisy Olyett

This last month, the world may have been focused on two white men battling for power, but the unsung winners of the U.S. presidential election were female and queer politicians of colour – Republicans and Democrats alike. Thanks to the surge of female voters from predominantly black and suburban backgrounds, 141 Democrats and 36 Republicans in Congress will be female thanks to the 55 percent female majority of Biden’s support. The largest success of this election is arguably the appointment of the first female, black and South Asian Vice President, Kamala Harris. Her election has sparked hope for women around the world who can now envision that their future is exclusively their own to shape.

“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last”

The re-election of “The Squad” to Congress too has ushered in a wave of progressive policies to their respective districts. As a result of their work, policies surrounding greener energy, universal healthcare and education, as well as easing border restrictions have gained a substantial amount of support.  In addition to this, the continuation of their time in office has proved how the systemic sexism in American politics will not prevail in hindering the mission for gender equality. Senator Yoho’s claims of Ocasio-Cortez being a “f*****g b***h” on the steps of Congress has only rallied support behind “The Squad”. Similarly, Omar had been repeatedly demonised by the Trump administration for being Somali-born and the first female representative for Minnesota – a state which made headlines this year after the death of George Floyd. Both Omar and Tlaib became the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress in 2018, with Tlaib being an avid supporter of the Palestinian cause against Israeli-sanctioned annexation. Pressley, too, has made remarkable headway in political feminism by confronting her battle with alopecia in the public eye, bringing predominantly black female issues to the forefront of feminist discussion.

The election proved to be a success for Native American women too. Democrats Deb Haaland (a Laguna Pueblon), Sharice Davids ( Ho-Chuck Nation), and Republican Yvette Herrell (Cherokee) were all elected into Congress. The three of them are bringing issues of Indian welfare to Congress and, with record numbers of Native American representatives in all forms of office this year, their plight will be almost impossible to ignore.

In spite of the reductive and homophobic attitudes of Trump’s administration, people who assume queer identities have managed to make history this election also. A primary example of this is Sarah McBride’s success in becoming to first transgender state senator, the highest political position held by any openly trans individual in the U.S.

Having such a diverse array of representation in the next U.S. Congress offers a sigh of relief to all who found their rights infringed upon by Trump’s time in office. During the four-year span of his presidency, there have been bans on abortions in several states, increased powers to ICE and general border control, bans on trans people from serving in the military as well as a continuing systems of oppression going unnoticed. Although Democrats too have done little to take firm action against these injustices, we can now anticipate that the growing equality of representation in congress will bring about a more equal and just society for the American people.