As my colleagues have noted, women have made history this election. I have been thinking a lot about the fact that 20 women will be serving in the U.S. Senate starting in January. This is the largest number of women ever to serve in that august body.
These are not empty numbers. Study after study has shown that female elected officials are more likely to prioritize issues that impact women. It is no accident, for example, that it was Senator Barbra Mikulski (the Dean of the Senate Women) who introduced the ground-breaking Women’s Preventive Services Act which now provides coverage for birth control, breast-feeding support and supplies, domestic violence screening and many other critical health services for women with no co-pay.
Not to be a downer about such a happy topic, but I can’t help but note that as terrific as this is, it simply isn’t good enough. Women make up 52 percent of the population. Not 20 percent. Not to mention the fact that the pace by which women have been getting elected to the Senate has been incredibly slow.
In 1989, there were two women in the Senate. By 1992, the “Year of the Woman”, that number had grown to 7. 20 years later, we’re at 20. That means we are electing less than two-thirds of a woman a year. At this rate, it will take roughly 46 years to achieve equal representation in the Senate.
And while I’m looking forward to celebrating that day on my 92 birthday, I don’t think we should have to wait so long.
So, I think we should all enjoy the next few days and bask in the fact that 20 women will be in the Senate next year. And tomorrow, we should get right back to work making sure that women truly have an equal voice in the governance of this country.