The massive firsts that just happened for women in the US

The massive firsts that just happened for women in the United States

The Democrats have flipped the house while the Republicans will continue to hold on to the Senate following the midterm elections in the United States.

But with record numbers of women nominated for the house, the Senate and for Governor, Tuesday was always set to be a historic day for women.

With most of the results now known, women in the US have achieved a number of significant firsts and played a major role in shifting the figures in Congress.

For starters, there looks set to be at least 100 women in the House of Representatives for the first time, with 95 already declared winners while other races are still being counted (including a number of races where both candidates are female). The previous record was 85, set in 2016. The vast majority of women elected are Democrats.

As ABC political commentator Cokie Roberts put it: “For most of our lives we just looked down from the gallery and saw a bunch of guys in gray suits. Now it’s people of every imaginable ethnicity and many, many more women.”

Below are some of the key firsts, with more to come.

Young women in the house

At 29, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, winning New York’s 14th District seat. One year ago, she was working in a restaurant, she ran a grassroots campaign with a progressive agenda including universal medicare, gun control and access to affordable housing.

“This is what is possible when everyday people come together with the collective realisation that all our actions, no matter how small or how large are powerful, worthwhile and capable of lasting change,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Meanwhile, at 31, Democrat Lauren Underwood also won her race to become a Congresswoman. Up against the Republican incumbent Randy Hultgren in Illinois, the former nurse was endorsed by former President Barack Obama and beat six men in the primary.

Then there is 29 year old Abby Finkenauer (a few months older than Ocasio-Cortez), who defeated Republic incumbent Rep. Rod Blum in Iowa.

“Tonight, Iowa rejected fear and division, and tonight, Iowa proved we step up for our neighbors,” Finkenauer tweeted following the result.” I truly believe hope is the reason we got this far – and hope is the reason we still have work to do.”

More representation

The first Muslim women have been elected to Congress, with Democrat Rashida Tlaib winning in Michigan and Ilhan Omar winning in Minnesota. Tlaib also becomes the first Palestinian-American in Congress and Omar the first Somali-American.

The first Native American women have also been elected to Congress, with Democrats Deb Haaland winning in New Mexico and Sharice Davids in Kansas.

Texas has elected its first Hispanic woman to Congress, with Democrats Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia winning their house seats.

A number of women have also achieved significant firsts in their states, including Democrats Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia who become the first Latina Congresswomen in Texas, and Alyanna Pressley from Massachusetts, becoming her state’s first black representative in Congress.

In Virginia, three women unseated their Republican opponents, despite their districts being historically red, including Jennifer Wexton, Abigail Spanberger, and Elaine Luria

Overall, there was a record numbers of women nominated in the first place, following the record number who put their hand up to get involved.

  • 235 women nominated for the house, according to the Washington Post (some publications put this as high as 239)
  • 22 women nominated for the Senate
  • 16 women nominated for Governor (of the 36 states electing one today).

More to come.

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