I was so jealous of Sasha and Malia Obama as a child. I so desperately wanted my dad to be the president so I could live in the White House. However, my father was not born in this country and therefore, despite my prayers, would never actually be able to run for president.
Years later, I reflect on this moment from my first grade brain and become rather sad. My mother was born in this country — she had every right to be a presidential candidate as an American and one of the strongest, smartest people I know. At 7 years old, I had never seen a woman as president and couldn’t even begin to believe that my mother had the opportunity.
With every election year, more and more women have the opportunity to represent the people of the country. I see a glimpse of hope that there will, one day, be a woman sitting in the oval office. This 2021 election brought some major wins for women on both sides of the aisle.
Michelle Wu, the next mayor of Boston, broke the 91-year streak of Irish and Italian American men in the office. Not only is she the first woman to serve in the role, but she is the first person of color ever elected mayor. The daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, Wu moved to the Boston area for college and law school at Harvard. She has broken many barriers for women in her long career serving the city of Boston as President of the City Council. She has worked to pass ordinances that prohibits healthcare discrimination on the basis of gender and provided legislative support for paternity leave.
In her acceptance speech, Wu opened with “So one of my sons asked me the other night if boys can be elected mayor in Boston. They have been and they will again someday, but not tonight.” Wu has now set a precedent that any little girl dreaming to be the next mayor of Boston can do it.
As I listened to her acceptance speech, I couldn’t help but think of how it would’ve changed my little 7-year-old brain. If I grew up seeing this kind of success and inspiration, I would’ve cried that my mother wasn’t the president, not just my father. Even if Wu didn’t come out with a win, her opponent was also a woman. The 2021 mayoral election was going to change Boston forever regardless of the outcome, showing women deserve to have a voice in city politics.
Down in Virginia, Winsome Sears was elected the first woman to serve as lieutenant governor. She is the first woman and person of color to serve in the role in the state’s 400-year history. Sears was born in Jamaica and has served in Virginia politics since 2002.
“I didn’t run to make history. I just wanted to leave it better than I found it,” Sears said to a group of supporters after accepting her win.
On the democratic ticket, Hala Ayala ran in opposition to Sears. Much like the election in Boston, the run for lieutenant governor in Virginia was going to change this office forever, as both contenders were women of color. Ayala congratulated Sears in her concession speech, noting that Sears “is paving the way for future female leaders who look like us.”
Every November, I feel more inspired that one day women won’t be the minority in American politics. Women like Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris have made huge national leaps for women, and back at the local level, women like Sears and Wu have continued that legacy. Now, go follow in their footsteps. Run for student council, executive boards and team captain. Women can, are, and will be the future leaders of this country, and it starts back home in small ways.
Cover image credit: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images