The new generation of women, many young one, elected in the last US midterm elections show attributes that, initially, contrast with the political dynamics that have the nation in turmoil today.
Many come from social activism, representatives of minorities among minorities, these women made their way with determination, sensitivity and commitment to transparency principles and respect for citizens. Time and their actions will tell if they will be able to make real and deep changes in dynamics and results from state and federal government spheres.
Women will occupy 21 percent of the seats in Congress – 95 of 435 representatives by districts. In the Senate, thirteen will join another ten that did not run this time, to occupy almost a quarter of the seats. More than 500 women ran for positions in the federal legislature and the government in the last elections. It is an unprecedented figure.
The 34 new congresswomen, mostly democrat, of darker complexion and very different origins than the average. They won 26 seats previously occupied mostly by white males. They arrived in response to -and are decided to assert themselves- an administration whose speech has a high misogynistic, racist and xenophobic tone.
Like the youngest congresswoman, of Puerto Rican origin, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, many of the new congresswomen come and have worked from the grassroots for reforms that will offer greater social justice.
Ilhan Omar, of Somali origin, lived as a refugee in Kenya for four years, since she was eight, before her family settled in Minnesota. She and Rashida Tlaib, a lawyer from Detroit, are the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Like them, Deb Haaland, from New Mexico, and Sharice Davids are breaking barriers by becoming the first two Native Americans to reach a congressional seat. Davids is also the first congresswoman from the LGBT community elected for Kansas. Verónica Escobar and Sylvia García are the first Hispanic women elected to Congress for Texas. Ayanna Pressley and Jahana Hayes are the first black representatives for Massachusetts and Connecticut, respectively.
Mostly from working class, these women know first hand the problems that gender inequality, social background, ethnicity, origin or faith, among others, cause. They opened the way to develop as professionals and chose the rugged path of activism and politics as a way to articulate changes that cross intergenerational, interracial, intercultural, or interreligious boundaries to improve the quality of life of many families. In general, they promote social causes, such as universal access to health, housing and education, gun control and environmental protection. As assistants or as elected officials, they know the rigors of politics that entail perseverance and direct exposure to vicious attacks.
Ocasio Cortez knocked on doors of thousands of New York homes to present her proposals for more than a year and without media attention. She rose in the Democratic primary with a surprise victory over her opponent, veteran congressman Joe Crowley, who was considered invincible. At 28, she won a seat in Congress on Tuesday with more than 76 percent of the votes.
The mission of being consistent in their determination and sensitivity lies on them, to legislate with active listening and empathy for the benefit of all citizens. From their positions, their speeches and performance will be an example for millions of children, who could learn new ways to relate and govern from them. They know, because they have experienced it, the damage that tricks that undermine people´s confidence and divide them do to society. Their voters, like the rest of the nation, trust that they will renew political structures to promote a better government and a better country.
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