Rock the Female Vote
We hear a lot these days about the war on women, about the slew of crucial issues affecting women and their health and rights. It’s hard to tell who’s “winning” this war – or if calling it a “war” in fact exacerbates the tension – but it is clear that in last night’s election, women experienced a pretty clear victory.
Some historic landmarks were achieved last night in terms of female representation in government. There will be 20 female Senators in the 113th Congress, which is an all-time high. The House of Representatives saw at least 77 elected Congresswomen, which will bring their numbers too to record high. New Hampshire became the first state to have an all-female delegation, with two newly elected female representatives to the House of Representatives and a new female governor joining the two already elected female Senators. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii became the first Hindu elected to Congress, and Mazie Hirono—the first female Senator from Hawaii—also became the Senate’s first Asian-American woman. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin is the first openly gay woman elected to the Senate (as well as the first female Senator from Wisconsin), and Elizabeth Warren is the first female Senator elected from Massachusetts.
Women’s issues and reproductive rights were also protected through ballot initiatives. Florida rejected Amendment 6, which would have limited private insurance coverage from abortion care, and prohibited the use of federal funding for abortion except in case of rape, incest or saving the mother’s life (notably removing the existing exception for the health of the mother). The amendment failed with a 55%-45% vote. However, Montana passed a parental notification for abortions for teens under age 16.
Finally, women proved to be a crucial demographic in the Presidential election. The gender gap was the widest in history, with women supporting Obama over Romney at a 55%-44% rate, compared to a 52%-42% Romney preference among men. Women comprised 54% of the electorate, and proved to be critical for Obama in key states such as Ohio, where the President had a 12 point lead among women.
Though the focus on women in this election has been key, and though women seemed to make major strides in last night’s election results, there is still work to be done. A legislature that is more representative of the population will hopefully call attention to the immense challenges and issues facing women today that we care about as Jews, from inequitable pay to access to contraception to domestic violence.
Image originally found here.