by Diana Cihak
Last night we stepped over a threshold – the US House of Representatives now have over 100 women who will be serving in the next Congress. (Looks like the final count will be 117).
Why is this such a big deal?
Well, for one – women govern differently. Let’s take the 2013 shutdown of the government. That year the Republicans said that they wanted to embarrass President Obama and try to stop his healthcare plan, so they refused to vote on a budget and effectively shutdown the federal government.
The women of the US Senate – from both sides of the aisles – have long had a tradition of monthly potlucks where they get together, socialize, become true colleagues and learn to work together for the mutual benefit of their constituents. You know, the way that democracy is supposed to work.
Those women understood that it was the families in their districts that would suffer this political ploy. The families of federal government workers who were not receiving paychecks. The elderly in their district who had their Social Security checks withheld. The Veterans that were not receiving benefits. The restaurants that were not hosting those families, the local shoe stores and small dance studios, the barbers and bakers. They knew something had to be done to protect the families they represented.
So they used the power of their connections, made through the time honored tradition of sharing meals together, to work through the shutdown. They allowed everyone to leave with a win – the government re-opened and the families in their districts could once again put food on the table, support local business and thrive in their home communities.
So, 117 isn’t 50% – but it is a step on the journey to full gender equality. And it IS a big deal.