Pramila Jayapal and 6 other women who made political history this election

Clockwise from top left: Kamala Harris, Pramila Jayapal, Catherine Cortez Masto, Stephanie Murphy, Tammy Duckworth, Kate Brown and Ilhan Omar. (Photos from campaign websites and Facebook pages)
Clockwise from top left: Kamala Harris, Pramila Jayapal, Catherine Cortez Masto, Stephanie Murphy, Tammy Duckworth, Kate Brown and Ilhan Omar. (Photos from campaign websites and Facebook pages)

For a lot of us, the week since the election has been filled with fear and anxiety. The strength of our nation is being put to a test, and there’s reason for all of us to worry how the election results will directly impact our lives.

But let’s not lose hope. There were signs of progress as well — election 2016 included some historical wins for women. Seven diverse women made political history by being elected to Congress and statewide offices.

As most of America struggles to accept the election results, there’s real promise and possibility that these women will be the voices that bring America together:

1. Pramila Jayapal

pramilanamastePramila Jayapal is the first person of color from Washington elected to the U.S. Congress as a Democrat. She’s also the first South Asian woman to win a seat in the House of Representatives. She’ll be serving in Washington’s 7th Congressional District, replacing Jim McDermott, who is retiring after 28 years.

Congresswoman-elect Jayapal is an immigrant who moved to the United States at the age of 16. In her victory speech she stated that she is ready to fight not only for progressive values, but to stop the potentially disastrous rollback of decades of mainstream progress in this country.

2. Kamala Harris

kamala-harris-facebookKamala Harris became the first Indian American woman elected to the U.S. Senate. Before running, she served for six years as Attorney General in California, and she was the first female, the first African American, the first Indian American, and the first Asian American to hold that position.

Harris will be filling the seat of retiring Senator Barbara Boxer — the first Senate seat to open up in California in nearly 25 years. Harris vows to do everything in her power to protect immigrants, both documented and undocumented, from the potential policies of President-elect Donald Trump.

3. Catherine Cortez Masto

catherine-cortez-masto-facebookCatherine Cortez Masto is the first Latina elected to the Senate and first female Senator from Nevada. She served as Attorney General there for two terms.

Senator-elect Cortez Masto says she’s dedicated to overturning Citizens United. Her other goals include protecting access to Medicare and Social Security, convincing Congress to raise the minimum wage, and passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

4. Stephanie Murphy

stephanie-murphy-facebookStephanie Murphy is the first Vietnamese American woman elected to Congress. She is the daughter of Vietnamese refugees and the first in her family to go to college.

Without any prior political experience, Stephanie Murphy decided to run after the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting. Her campaign spent a heavy amount on ads that linked 12-term Republican John Mica to Donald Trump on issues of women’s health and gun control. In her victory speech, Murphy stated, “Tonight, the people of central Florida rejected partisan deadlock and dysfunction and embraced a new approach. In Congress, I will work with both Democrats and Republicans, and I will always put people over politics.”

According to the Washington Post, Murphy’s defeat of Mica was one of the closest and most expensive congressional races in the nation.

5. Ilhan Omar

ilhan-omar-facebookIlhan Omar is the first Somali American woman to be elected to a state legislature anywhere in the country.  A Muslim and former refugee, she will serve in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

Omar’s victory is seen as a win for progressive causes. She will represent a diverse and liberal district. In her statement, she said, “I think I bring the voice of young people. I think I bring the voice of women in the East African community. I bring the voice of Muslims. I bring the voice of young mothers looking for opportunities.”

Omar’s stated focus is to fight for better rights for immigrants and the LGBTQ community. She is also committed to advocating for affordable college, criminal justice reform, economic equality, and ensuring clean energy and sustainability.

6. Kate Brown

kate-brown-facebookKate Brown is the first openly LGBTQ person elected governor in U.S. History. She has nearly 25 years of service to Oregonians under her belt, including serving as governor of Oregon since her successor, Gov. John Kitzhaber, resigned during a corruption scandal in 2015.

“I am so honored to be serving as your governor for the next two years,” said Brown during her victory speech at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.  She will serve the remaining two years of the term and will work with a Democratic Legislature, as her party secured majorities in the state of House and Senate.

As governor, some of Brown’s top achievements include putting billions of dollars into Oregon’s education budget, increasing the minimum wage, and supporting Oregon’s working families. Among Brown’s stated goals are passing protections for LGBTQ people, introducing gun safety legislation, and increasing high school graduation rates.

7. Tammy Duckworth

tammy-duckworth-twitterTammy Duckworth is the first female veteran, and the first disabled woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate. She was also the first Asian American congresswoman from Illinois.

Duckworth campaigned on plans to fight for civil rights for LGBTQ people, provide protection of the Affordable Care Act, give basic assistance for people facing poverty, and help in the reduction of gun violence.

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