Women make history at US 2020 election

Women make history at US 2020 election

Three days after the US election the votes are still being counted while Donald Trump cries fraud and protests supporting his wild claims mount. Many now believe Biden will emerge as the next President of the United States, but whatever happens one thing is certain – women have already made history. 

A record number of Native American women have been elected to the House of Representatives. According to a report by the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), more Native American women ran for congressional office in 2020 than ever before, with 18 candidates. 

In New Mexico, progressive Deb Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo people and a former leader of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, has taken a seat in Congress. Haaland has campaigned for the rights of the people of Standing Rock advocating for tribal sovereignty and the protection of natural resources. 

With Republican Yvette Herrell, who is Cherokee, also taking a seat, New Mexico becomes the first state in history to elect all women of color to the House of Representatives, with Democrat attorney Teresa Leger Fernandez joining Haaland and Herrell in its three congressional districts.

Over in Kansas Sharice Davids, a Ho-Chunk Nation member, retains her seat after being elected in 2018. She was the first openly LGBTQ Native American elected to congress and is an advocate of equal rights for everyone in society. 

Also in Kansas community support worker Ponka-We Victors, a Tohono O’odham and Ponca member, has won her re-election campaign; and public health professional Christina Haswood, a Navajo Nation member, has become the youngest person to be elected to the House at 26, after focusing her campaign on reproductive rights, police reform and Medicaid access. 

Washington has elected the first Korean American to Congress with Marilyn Strickland, whose campaign focused on affordable housing and an inclusive economy. Born in Seoul to a Korean mother and African American father, she also becomes the first African American person to represent Washington at federal level. 

Lawyer and immigration rights advocate Jennifer Rajkumar has become one of the first South Asian politicians elected to the 38th District of the New York state assembly. Along with Jessica González-Rojas,  who is executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, they have unseated two men who’d held the office here for over a decade. Speaking after her win, González-Rojas, who has Paraguayan and Puerto Rican heritage, said “for the last 44 years, we’ve had white men. This district is 88% people of color.”

Cori Bush, a nurse and activist who got into politics after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014, is Missouri’s first black congresswoman. The Black Lives Matter campaigner champions Medicare-For-All and the Green New Deal.

New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez retains her seat in Congress, along with Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, four progressive Democrats who have frequently been the subject of Donald Trump’s racist vitriol. 

Meanwhile more LGBTQ candidates ran for office this year than ever before, in what is being called a ‘rainbow wave’. Sarah McBride, Stephanie Byers and Ana Irma Rivera Lassén are among the women elected who have vowed to fight for equal rights and inclusivity. 

If Joe Biden does succeed in this election, as it’s looking ever more likely, the next vice president of the USA will be Kamala Harris. This would be the first time a woman of colour takes the second highest job in the country. Along with these record-breaking wins, this sets a clear marker for a chance to move away from the discriminatory, racist, and aggressive rhetoric that has inflamed the US in the last four years, and towards the fairer, more equitable society so many are demanding.


Leila Hawkins

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Featured image: Cori Bush, photo: Craig Currie via Photo News 247 / CC BY 3.0. Sharice Davids, photo: public domain. Marilyn Strickland, photo: CC BY 2.0.

READ MORE: US Election 2020

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