A year ago, millions of women came together to show their disappointment and shock at Hillary Clinton’s loss and the election of Donald Trump. They came together to send a message that they would hold him accountable for the actions he and the GOP Congress would make in his time in office. A year later, it is increasingly clear that the women’s marches across the country marked a pivotal point for women in America that will redefine politics for years to come.
It is no exaggeration to say that women are leading the resistance. From organizing those January marches to mobilizing voters and running for office, women are stepping forward in an unprecedented way. A palpable energy of defiance and action is in the air. As part of EMILY’s List’s efforts to engage and train the more than 26,000 women who have reached out to us interested in running for office, I have seen this energy firsthand. From L.A. to Dallas to New York City and everywhere in between, women are asking us “how do I run for office?” or “how can I help other women run?”
This past November, this energy was evident when so many women made history by becoming firsts. A few examples: Vi Lyles became the first African American mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina. In Virginia, Kathy Tran and Kelly Fowler became the first Asian American women elected to the House of Delegates. And in ruby red Alabama, women voters sent Democrat Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate.
Latinas too are making history. Virginia elected its first two Latinas to the House of Delegates: Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala. Florida elected Annette Taddeo as its first Latina Democratic state Senator. Seattle elected a majority-women city council including Teresa Mosqueda and Lorena Gonzalez. And Deborah Gonzalez won a seat in the Georgia House.
These wins confirmed what the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund found in a study that showed that since 2013, the number of Latino elected officials has increased by almost 10 percent. And in 2017, more than 36 percent of Latino elected officials were Latina. Moreover, between 2013 and 2017 more Latinas were elected than their male counterparts, increasing their ranks by 17 percent versus 6 percent.
2018 promises to bring even more talent to the political landscape. Sol Flores, a community leader in Chicago, is running for retiring Congressman Luis Gutierrez’ seat. El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar is running to become the first Latina from Texas elected to Congress. And Debbie Mucarsel Powell is running for one of Florida’s congressional seat. We even have the opportunity to elect Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham as the first Latina Democrat governor in the nation.
No wonder many in the media are calling this the “Year of the Woman.” But these trends point to something bigger: We are in the middle of a sea change where women are both the leaders in front and behind the scenes—and will be for years to come.
The election of Donald Trump and his agenda awakened women to the fact that maybe we have not come as far as we thought. The beliefs and policy positions he articulated during his campaign and now during his first year in office have mobilized and brought movements together in a way that we haven’t seen before. For Latinas this moment serves as a reminder that we are the leaders we have been waiting for.