MADE Magazine Spring 2019 May 2019 - Page 15

MADETOLEAD MADEXXX see that there is a way out and that they do not have to fall into the patterns set by generations of women before them. One of the places these young women can turn to see women making great strides is in the current political climate, both on a local and national level. For decades women have been fighting not only to get a vote but to make their voices heard through representation in the political spectrum. Even though the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920, women of color did not get the right to vote until 1965 when the Voting Rights Act was passed. Much like the laws, women of color and minority women were not able to make a place for themselves in politics until much later than their Caucasian counterparts. For example, the first woman was elected to Congress in 1916 and the first minority woman wasn’t elected until 1968. Similarly, the first woman was elected to the Senate in 1932 while the first woman of minority status was not elected until 1992, almost 60 years later. Without proper representation, young girls of colors had no one to look up to and inspire them to be the driving force of change to create equality in a political space for themselves and other minorities. Fast forward to 2018 and women of color and minorities are still fighting to shift the number in their favor and to be a positive role model to youths. After the midterms, not only did women claim for seats in both the House and Senate, but the number of black women and minority women rise as well. Of the 127 women in Congress, 22 are black women, 86 women are in Statewide elected offices, four are black and 14 are minority women and of the 456 women of color out of the 1,875 state legislators, 275 are black women including 112 Senators and 344 State Representatives. These numbers give young girls a wide range of women, who may or may not visually represent them, role models that show them that with perseverance and hard work they are capable of creating and facilitating change. While having a visual representation to look up to, another way for young girls to learn from their role model, political or otherwise is to write to them. Learning first hand from the women who came before them can help create a blueprint of sorts of traversing the rough terrain of obtaining your goals. The lesson they teach may not always be a straight forward plan to get there but rather the knowledge of the challenges they faced, how to circumvent failure and how to stay strong in the face of adversity. Although role models are often linked to a younger generation, women of all age can benefit from role models and the support of their fellow females. It is never too late to pursue one’s passion or follow a dream because society has denoted that they are unobtainable. Not to sound cliché, there are plenty of powerful and successful women who did not even begin to chase their dreams until later in life. For example, Toni Morrison, who was a single mother working at Random House Publishing, published her first novel at 40 and later went on to become a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner. Well known bridal and fashion designer, Vera Wang was 40 years old when she opened her flagship store that helped launch her million- dollar brand. Inspirational women come from all walks of life, have unique and individual stories and prove to be motivational figures to not just young girls but adults as well. In a time where everyone seems to be at conflict with others, it is pivotal that women continue to come together and uplift and inspire. The more women make waves in society, the more access young girls have to a range of role models regardless of the communities they come from or their societal backgrounds. #mademaven 15