© 2018 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Women make history in US midterm elections by winning over 100 congressional seats
THE 2018 midterm elections in the United States of America has seen women winning more seats in the legislative arm or government than at any other time in the country’s history.
These include women from across age, racial and religious divides.
237 women ran for the House as major-party candidates this year, according to data compiled by The Associated Press, out of which about 101 won, breaking the previous record of 85 women.
“This is the year of the woman, and the fact that women were willing to put themselves on the line is important, whether they’ve been Republicans or Democrats,” said Donna Shalala, a first-time candidate, who won a House seat to represent the State of Florida.
Another victorious female candidate, Ayanna Pressley, who became the first black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts, described her victory as historic.
“I know for a fact [that] none of us ran to make history, we ran to make change. However, the historical significance of this evening is not lost on me. The significance of history is not lost on me,” she said.
Other women whose victories had some historic significance include Sharice Davids, a Democrat from the State of Kansas, who became one of the first two Native American women elected to the United States legislature; New Mexico’s Deb Haaland is the other.
Also, two Muslim women will be heading to the U.S Congress for the first time ever: Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, both of whom won by resounding margins. The U.S Congress currently has only two lawmakers who identify as Muslim and both of them are men.
Twenty-eight-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez , from New York, became the youngest person ever to be elected to the U.S Congress. A little over a year ago, Ocasio-Cortez was working as a bartender, but she pulled a major surprise when she defeated the incumbent congressman Joe Crowley, who has been in the Congress for 20 years, during the Democratic primary election.
With just a little above hundred women in the U.S Congress made up of about 450 members, gender activists say a lot still needs to be done to ensure gender parity in the two legislative chambers of the country.
Meanwhile in Nigeria, only seven out of the 109 members of the Nigerian Senate are women, while out of the 360 members of the House of Representatives, only 23 are female. It is unlikely that the number of female legislatures in Nigeria will increase after the 2019 general election.