Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez listens to a speaker at a fundraiser Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, in Los Angeles, Calif.
Jae C. Hong/AP
Girls & Women

More Women Are Headed to Congress Than Ever Before


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Gender discrimination has historically kept women out of politics. Following the Nov 6. US midterm elections, a record number of women representatives are heading to Congress in January 2019. You can join us in taking action on this issue here

Change is in the air.

More than 100 women are projected to win seats in the US House of Representatives, the Washington Post reports. Additionally, at least 13 women won Senate seats, according to NPR. 

As of Wednesday morning, following the Nov 6. election, 95 women had already been declared winners. Many of them campaigned around the need for a better health care system, the environment, and equality. A majority of the women had never run for office before and represented diverse backgrounds — breaking barriers across race, sexual orientation, and religion. Of the winners, 31 were newly elected to the House of Representatives, while 65 were reelected. 

Women ran against other women in a record 33 elections. Before 2018, women had never been elected for more than 84 of the 435 seats in the House. 

Even with this feat, women are still widely underrepresented in Congress, but the representatives headed there are determined to continue advocating for change. 

Take Action:Sign this petition to #LeveltheLaw and empower girls and women around the world!

Latinas Are Heading to Congress

Community organizer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old Latina Democrat from New York, is the first woman of color to represent the 14th district, which covers parts of Queens and the Bronx — where people of color make up the majority of the population. 

Ocasio-Cortez is also the youngest woman elected to the House. She defeated Democratic incumbent Joseph Crowley in the primary, which was considered the most significant congressional turn since Virginia’s 2014 Republican primary. 

Texas is sending its first Latina women to Congress, too. Democrat Veronica Escobar won the seat to replace Democrat Beto O'Rourke in the congressional district near El Paso.

Two Native-American Women Will Occupy Congressional Seats

Deb-Haaland-New-Mexico-Native-American-Congress.jpgDeb Haaland poses for a portrait in a Nob Hill Neighborhood in Albuquerque, N.M., June 5, 2018.
Image: Juan Labreche/AP

Deb Haaland, a Democrat in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, and Sharice Davids, a Democrat in Kansas’s 3rd Congressional District, will be the first female Native American represenatatives. Davids, a lawyer and mixed martial arts fighter, is also the first openly LGTBQ Kansan elected to Congress.

“Sharice won the hearts of voters by putting forward a positive and solutions-oriented agenda while explaining how her experiences as a Native American LGBTQ woman influenced her policy positions and beliefs,” former Houston Mayor Annise Parker told NBC News.

The First Muslim Women Elected are Champions for Racial Diversity 

Rashida-Tlaib-Michigan-Election-2018.jpgRashida Tlaib, center, Democratic candidate for Michigan's 13th Congressional District, talks during a rally in Dearborn, Mich., Oct. 26, 2018.
Image: Paul Sancya/AP

Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, born to Palestinian parents will represent the state’s 13th congressional district, and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, serving the state’s 5th congressional disctrict, became the first Muslim women elected during the midterm election. Omar, a Somalian immigrant who arrived in the US at the age of 14, will also be the first Somali-American member of Congress, according to CNN.

Read More: The Girls’ Guide to Getting Into Government

Female Veterans Will Join The House

Female veteran candidates grew in popularity this election. Chrissy Houlahan, an Air Force veteran and Democrat, won in Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District race. Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy helicopter pilot and Democrat who won New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District, was motivated to run after noticing a “lack of respect for women” in the Trump administration. Sherrill reached a breaking point while watching an all-male Senate debate over the repeal of the Affordable Care Act in 2017. 

Victories for women in the midterm election didn’t stop at the House of Representatives. Arizona is guaranteed to elect a female senator, as Democratic Representative Kyrsten Sinema is facing off against Republican Representative Martha McSally, according to CNN. Republican Marsha Blackburn became the first female to represent Tennessee in the Senate.

Meanwhile, South Dakota elected its first woman governor, Republican Kristi Noem. Michigan Democrats elected a woman for every statewide office including governor, US senator, attorney general, and secretary of state. 

Compared to the rest of the world, the US still falls behind when it comes to female representation in legislative roles. However, a lack of female representation in politics is widespread across the world. UN Women reports as of January 2017, only 18.3% of government ministers were women.

“Are women fired up? That is putting it mildly,” Jen Cox, a founder of the political organization PaveItBlue, told the Washington Post. 

“It’s historic. It’s our turn in having a say in changing the face of politics,” she said.