While every election season brings us hot-button issues, the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election specifically focused on the economy, health care, the global COVID-19 pandemic, race and ethnic inequality, Supreme Court appointments and more. While it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and social media craze, it’s essential that families take a deep breath, step back and find the silver linings from election 2020 to help our children understand the significance.
Perhaps one of the most important silver linings is that there are many lessons that girls can learn about from these last few months from Election Day 2020 through this week’s Inauguration Day.
Positive Female Role Models
No matter your political affiliation, there’s no way of denying that this most recent election saw more women run for political positions – on both sides of the aisle – than ever before, especially for seats in Congress.
Gender parity earned huge gains this election and here are just some of the highlights thanks to these female trailblazers:
- Yvette Herrell, a member of Cherokee Nation, is the first Native American Republican woman to serve in Congress;
- Mexico’s Congressional delegation includes three women of color: Yvette Herrell, Teresa Leger Fernandez and Deb Haaland;
- Cori Bush was elected as Missouri’s first Black congresswoman;
- Sarah McBride is the first openly transgender person to serve as a state senator in U.S. history;
- Cynthia Lummis is the first woman to represent Wyoming in the U.S. Senate; and
- Marilyn Strickland is the first Korean American elected to Congress and the first Black person to represent Washington state in Congress.
Further breaking glass ceilings in November, was Kamala Harris, now the first female Black and South Asian vice president of the United States; and First Lady Jill Biden, who has plans to continue to hold her paying job as a college English professor while her husband is in the Oval Office.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
More females than ever before landed important local and national political positions this election. Shattering even more stereotypes, the United States also voted for a record number of females of diverse races and genders. In fact, all the women mentioned above, minus Jill Biden and Cynthia Lummis, are women of color, different races and genders.
Election 2020 has proven to girls – particularly those of different races, genders, and color – that they, too, can be inspired by a movement which calls for equality everywhere, including in high level political positions.
Instilling Confidence in Girls
It is known that there is a female tween and teen confidence plunge that happens during and after puberty that can have lasting effects on girls’ confidence through adulthood.
Election 2020 might have resonated with young girls who otherwise would have innately avoided risk and conflict. Perhaps after watching the first female Black and South Asian vice president speak in November, girls’ confidence meters were revved up when Harris said, “While I may be the first woman in this office, I won't be the last because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.” These same girls no doubt were watching highlights of Harris as she was sworn in on Wednesday, January 20, 2021.
This most recent election has had many takeaways for girls, but perhaps the most important theme and one that is central in all these points above, is that it has shown girls the pathways to finding their own voices. Girls who might have shown interest in serving their communities in a political role can now point to several female leaders who have successfully paved the way. Girls who see female role models are better equipped to gain confidence, find their own voices and stand up for what they believe in. Confidence really counts and ultimately helps girls understand that they, too, can be a confident leader while following their dreams.
So, while it’s easy to get swept up in the political memes and social media armchair analysts, it’s important we encourage girls to focus on the silver linings like civil discourse and coming together to collectively combat a global pandemic. At the same time, it has also empowered the next generation of girls to find and nurture their confidence, their unique voices, seek role models and stand up for what they believe in.