Today is the first day of Women’s History Month 2019; 31 days dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of women. Although it can feel like we are living in a time when women’s rights and autonomy is constantly under attack, the fact is that this year is going to be looked back on as a time when women took the lead in politics and made unprecedented gains when it comes to representation.
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Women have been in politics for a long time. In 1851 Sojourner Truth delivered her “Ain’t I A Woman” speed at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention. In 1913, Ida B. Wells founded the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago. In 1920, women’s suffrage was ratified. In 1963, the first Equal Pay Act was passed by John F. Kennedy. In 1971, Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug, and Gloria Steinem formed the National Women’s Political Caucus. In 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court. It can be easy to think of women’s history as only a time to look to the women who came before us and catalog how much things have changed for women throughout history, but the truth is that we are living in a remarkable time for women. Our peers and contemporaries are in the middle of making history right now.
From the Women’s March to an unprecedented number of women running for office, women are practically taking over. So instead of just looking at the past, women’s history month is a perfect moment to look around us, and see the women of our own generation who are making their own history in politics as we speak.
So in honor of women’s history month, here are ten historic moments to celebrate:
Five Women Are Running For President
The 2020 election is still a long ways off, and we already have more than five female presidential hopefuls: Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, and Kirsten Gillibrand. Even Oprah’s spiritual advisor, Marianne Williamson, is throwing her hat in the ring. Just think of how awesome it would be to see two qualified female candidates face off in a presidential debate, something that has never happened before.
Female Politicians Are Controlling Congress
A record-breaking number of women are in Congress — over 112 of them! This includes the history-making elections of Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids, the first Native American women elected to Congress; Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first Muslim women to represent their states; and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Abby Finkenauer, the youngest women Representatives.
Women Are Becoming Local Leaders
Government participation isn’t just reserved for those in the highest echelons of government, and women are here to prove it. Women took over a remarkable number of local government seats, all the way from city council to state-level positions. Of the women who ran, many of them were running for the first time ever, and many more plan to run in future elections.
Teenagers Girls Are Making History
Teen girls might be one of the most underestimated groups of people in the U.S., but teens from around the country are making their voices heard this year. New numbers show that teenage girls, who are coming of age in the time of women’s marches, increased female political representation, and threats on women’s rights and autonomy, are more politically engaged and may end up with a lifelong passion for politics.
The Women’s March Is Demanding Change
For the third year in a row, hundreds of thousands of women gathered across the country and across the world to march in support of women. The Women’s March has an official policy of ending violence against women and femmes, ending state violence, promoting reproductive rights and justice, racial justice, LGBTQIA+ rights, immigrant rights, economic justice and worker’s rights, civil rights and liberties, disability rights, and environmental justice.
Moms Are Taking Action Against Gun Violence
U.S. House of Representatives passed two bills on stricter gun control, with Nancy Pelosi calling the initiative “a long-overdue, common-sense action to end the epidemic of gun violence in America.” These bills come on the heels of advocacy by groups of women like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which works to promote gun safety legislation.
More Women Are Becoming Lawyers
Men have long been the majority in the legal and political field, but that is changing. More women than ever are becoming lawyers. Young women lawyers are helping to change the gender balance in the courtroom, and are working hard to fight for women’s rights in court.
Women Are Demanding Fair Pay
Teacher strikes have broken out across the country. The profession, which largely attracts women, has been embattled for years, with teachers making poverty wages while teaching children. Now teachers are protesting for better conditions in the classroom, for both teachers and students alike.
Women Are Working To Protect Our Health
More women in government has meant, among other things, that issues facing women are getting more attention at the local, state, and federal levels. Women lawmakers are working on passing bills that would protect women’s health, from reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act to protecting women’s right to choose.
Women Are Working To Protect Immigrant Families
Women across the country have come together to fight for immigrant families in the face of a hostile, anti-immigrant climate. From immigration attorneys working on the border to moms who felt called by family separation to help, women across the United States are hard at work trying to assist recently arrived migrants and working to create a welcoming America.
Women’s History Month may be a time to remember the women that have come before us and to celebrate the massive political gains that women have made over time, but it is also a time when we should look around and appreciate the women of today who are on the political front lines. After all, we are living through a historic moment as well, and we will be able to look back to 2019 and see a unique political moment when the contributions of women were making a difference.
It would be impossible to include every brilliant queer woman and important moment on one single list — so we’re making more! Let us know in the comments the queer women and important moments you want to celebrate this Women’s History Month and stay tuned!