by Maggie Moore, Meredith Moore, & Rebecca Davis
We, B.A.’s girls, spent most of 2016 thinking that our next president would be a woman. Failing that, we at minimum hoped for the election of someone who supported women’s rights and dignity. We even planned our 2016 Pathways to Public Service event around it: we asked Amy Walter, a highly respected female political analyst, to speak at our event two weeks after the election at the Women’s National Democratic Club in Washington, DC – a fitting location for a progressive, women-run, women-focused organization to hold an event. But on November 9th, we woke up to the fact that one of the most anti-woman candidates in history would be our next president. It was not a good day. We cried a lot. Maggie remembers thinking, “It was supposed to be a banner year for women.” Hillary Clinton won’t be our next president, but maybe 2017 can still be a good year for women.
Our Commander in Chief won’t be a woman, but the number of minority women in the Senate quadrupled. And those women aren’t alone. The 115th Congress includes a total of 35 Democratic and three Republican women of color – making it the most diverse in Congressional history. Minnesota also elected Ilhan Omar to their state House of Representatives- a female, Muslim, former refugee from Somalia. While the total representation of women in Congress didn’t change – it remains at 19 percent – this diversity is important: the more diverse and representative legislative bodies are, the stronger and more legitimate they become.
Another silver lining will be the Women’s March on Washington. It came together in a mere 74 days – gaining momentum and strength from a community of women who felt like they had to do something following the outcome of Election Day. It’s also more than just a symbolic stroll down the National Mall. It’s a national and international movement of women with a powerful platform focused on intersectional feminism, which recognizes that women aren’t defined solely by their gender; they are also defined by their ethnicities, religions, economic/ income levels and geography, to name a few.
As women descend on Washington to march with their sisters, wives, mothers and daughters it’s equally important to mention they also march with their sons, brothers, husbands, fathers, and friends of all races, religions, sexualities. Not everyone from the Foundation will be at the March this Saturday, but we stand by the platform and hope that the words inspire legislative action and other concrete steps.
In her concession speech, Hillary Clinton was seemingly prophetic when she said, “I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but some day someone will, and hopefully sooner than we might think right now.” Since the election, organizations like She Should Run and Emily’s List that help women run for public office have been overwhelmed by the record number of new donors, women signing up to participate in workshops and programs, and those reaching out asking to be involved in the organization, all clearly determined to have their voices heard. Perhaps Clinton’s loss will be a catalyst for women to participate in Washington and in their local governments. Perhaps one of those women will be someone the Foundation helped get started in public service.
The news of such increased interest and action brings with it the hope that in 2020 – or even midterms in 2018 – the pendulum will swing towards female representation and female friendly political platforms. It did in 1992, often called the “Year of the Woman”, which followed the hotly contested Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, involving the allegations by Anita Hill and raised the question of the dominance of men in the Senate.
It should have been Hillary’s year. But it isn’t. Life’s not fair. As B.A. would say, “It’s time to put on our big girl panties and get over it.” So it’s time for us dust ourselves off and fight harder for women to take their seat at the political table. Let’s get going. We’ve got a lot of work to do.
About the Authors: Maggie Moore, Meredith Moore and Rebecca Davis are the co-founders of the B. A. Rudolph Foundation and were goddaughters of B. A. Rudolph. She taught them to be strong women, grounded by the friends and family they surround themselves with. She also taught them the importance of values, forward thinking, independence, and especially laughter. Through the B.A. Rudolph Foundation, they seek to serve a similar role in the lives of other women.