Looking Back on 2018: Women in Power

By Aminah Attar.
Image of (from left to right) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Presley, Ilhan Omar, Deb Haaland, Veronica Escobar, and Sharice Davids from Huffington Post.

The Globe and Mail has called the year 2018 “The ‘New’ Year of the Woman.” Women around the world have been gaining massive ground in politics and in courts. In fact, multiple countries have taken reformative steps to be more inclusive of women within their political and judicial institutions.
In the fall of 2018, Ethiopia’s reformist Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, introduced multiple revolutionary reforms to his government. He appointed the first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde, and the first female Supreme Court President of Ethiopia, Meaza Ashenafi. He additionally installed a gender-balanced cabinet in the name of creating a more just and effective democracy. This political move aimed to enable female empowerment and recognize women who have made immense contributions to the country. Soon after, Rwanda also announced a gender parity cabinet. Similar changes in government can be seen in the United States.

Following the US Midterm Elections in November 2018, a record amount of over 99 women were elected to the US House of Representatives. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman elected to Congress, Somali-American Ilhan Omar and Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib became the first Muslim women elected to Congress, Marsha Blackburn became Tennessee’s first female Senator, and Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids became the first Native American women elected to Congress. Davids is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Although the conditions that contribute to the increase in the representation of women in the US government are varied, this grand mobilization and election of women were perhaps motivated in part by the alienation of women and minorities that took place under the Trump administration. While the government was not initiating reform, as in the case of Ethiopia, the result is similar: more women in places of political power.

This growing trend of women’s empowerment around the globe sets a hopeful tone for the future. As women take more positions in government, one can look forward to their perspectives on issues as well as their contribution to challenging gender biases and disparities within the political sphere and outside of it.

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