A woman’s place is in the House and Senate” 

Every August in the lead up to Women’s Equality Day, the Women’s Museum of California asks volunteers and friends of the Museum to write why women’s history is important to them. This is our first post for August 2018 written by one of our Museum docents, Lita. For Lita, the history of women in politics inspires her fight for what she believes in and to ensure that her voice is heard.

The legislative system is one of the ways that women can effectuate change and ultimately the course of history. Ever since my first civics class I have been hooked. Many of my role models were Members of Congress. (Yes, I was a strange kid.) I was a bit frightened by Bella Abzug’s audacity and hats, inspired by Shirley Chisholm’s wisdom and passion, tried pipe smoking for a while to emulate Millicent Fenwick, (until my dentist yelled at me about the health risks), and I must admit I learned how not to behave to staff from Barbara Mikulski. The list of women legislators I followed goes on. So many interesting stories and accomplishments! To learn more check out http://history.house.gov/Exhibition-and-Publications/WIC/Women-in-Congress/.

Just this spring I cried, laughed and jumped up and down when I heard that Tammy Duckworth became the first Senator to vote with her baby in her arms on the floor of the Senate. Although the Senate voted to amend the rules that prohibited children under one on the floor, they didn’t amend the dress code, so the newborn wore a tiny black blazer over her ducky onesie.

As I contemplate each election, I view candidates against the lens of those issues important to me. Not all women believe as I do – but I respect them for their passion and desire to work through our legislative process to stand up for their principles. I once heard Nancy Pelosi tell her audience to imagine a faucet hooked up to the ocean with water rushing out full blast. That is how much money some special interest groups have to spend on their priority issues. I am undeterred by this image and continue to be confident in my ability to communicate, educate, and lobby elected officials on issues I am passionate about. Throughout time women have lead the way. I am optimistic that we will continue to achieve great things by keeping our voices heard for ourselves and future generations.

I may be the first woman elected to Congress, but I won’t be the last” – Jeannette Rankin, Representative from Montana, first elected in 1916

Join in the conversation! Why is women’s history important to you? Share your answer on social media with #WomensHistoryBecause

Lita is a volunteer docent for the Women’s Museum of California.