Election Day 2012 was a significant one for women. Not since 1992, when a record number of women were elected, did we win so many new seats in Congress. Women won five new seats in the U.S. Senate for a total of twenty women senators. This is one-fifth of the body! Democrat representation will grow from 12 to 16, and the Republicans will drop from five to four. In the House of Representatives, we have will have at least three new female representatives when all the votes are tallied.
Of the new female senators, four are Democrats—Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and one, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, is Republican. If you have been following the political scene for the past year or more, you will know that several of these women had extremely challenging campaigns with enough negativity and maliciousness to last a lifetime. The Warren, Hirono, and Heitkamp victories give them the distinction of being the first female senators from their states. Tammy Baldwin made history with two special firsts, as the first openly gay politician and the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Wisconsin.
Another rewarding first is the outcome in New Hampshire. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat and the only woman nominated for governor by a major party in this election cycle, won her contest. Therefore, in January 2013, New Hampshire will be the first state ever will have a female governor, two female U.S. Senators, and an all-woman U.S. House delegation.
We have come a long way baby, but not far enough. National statistics indicate that women are still a minority in Congress, in most state legislatures, and as mayors of major cities. There is so much work ahead before women have parity in government and business leadership. Now is the time to identify the next generation of women who aspire to run for public office. It is our responsibility to engage, train, and mentor them; to teach them to delve deeply into the issues that are important to us; to prepare them to run for office; and finally to effectively govern. There are organizations such as Run Women Run in San Diego that were formed just for purpose of helping women to enter the political arena. Find one and get involved in your city.
The time to start was yesterday! I hope you agree.