By Samantha Anthony
As election results came pouring in on Tuesday and the days after, one observation soon became clear: it’s a year of firsts for women in Congress. Over 100 women were elected to the House of Representatives, crushing the previous record. According to The Washington Post, “Women have never held more than 84 of the 435 seats in the House. With votes still being counted Thursday, 100 women had officially been declared winners.” The women elected include veterans, teachers, and more.
Among the groundbreaking victories this week, several women have achieved cultural and religious firsts in Congress. A Vox article claims that two Muslim women were elected to the House of Representatives, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. Tlaib won in Michigan and Omar in Minnesota. On Tuesday evening, Omar mentioned Tlaib on Twitter: “I cannot wait to serve with you, inshallah,” she said.
In New York, one woman became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. At 29 years old, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be representing New York’s 14th District. Cortez has been open about her struggles – and triumphs – as an adult. She shared on Wednesday that just last year, she was working as a bartender. Soon she’ll be hunting for apartments in Washington, D.C., but for now she’s focused on bringing attention to housing affordability, something that has impacted her personally.
Women have yet another reason to celebrate firsts: in New Mexico and Kansas, two Native American women were elected to Congress for the first time. “The projected victories for the two Native American women mark a milestone in the US political system,” CNN said in an article this week. Deb Haaland will serve in New Mexico, and Sharice Davids in Kansas. What could be better? We’ll tell you: Davids is also the first openly LGBT+ member of Congress to be elected in Kansas. Intersectionality for the win!
Victory and equality were celebrated in Massachusetts on Tuesday. According to CNBC, Ayanna Pressley, is the first black woman to be elected to the House of Representatives from the state. In September, Pressley made headlines when an emotional video was released of her finding out that she had won the primary election. Her victory speech was equally charging: “In Congress, I will be focused on lifting up the voices of those in community, partnering with activists and residents, and ensuring that those closest to the pain are closest to the power, driving and informing the policy-making,” Pressley said.
Regardless of party affiliation, this year’s midterm election results prove that women are ready for equal representation in government.