This month is a very special month. During March we celebrate Women’s History Month – a commemoration that has occurred in America since 1987. Throughout this month we honor the historic women who have sacrificed and stood against great odds to make their voices heard.
This year, 2017, marks the 100th anniversary of women serving in Congress. We will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Jeannette Rankin, the first woman Member of Congress and a suffragette, being sworn into office. She was sworn into office three years before women nationwide were guaranteed the right to vote. We have come a long way since then. In 1970, there were only 11 women in Congress – 10 in the House and 1 in the Senate. Now, the 115th Congress contains a record number of 109 women serving in the House and Senate, 88 in the House and 21 in the Senate.
We honor women such Susan B. Anthony, a suffragette who devoted her life to women’s equal rights; Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress; Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to serve as the Speaker of the House; Hattie Caraway, the first woman elected to the Senate and Carol Moseley Braun, the first African American woman elected to the Senate. Let us not forget the record-breaking women currently in the House and Senate. Kamala Harris, who is part African American and Indian-American, is the first Indian-American Senator and Tammy Duckworth, the first Thai senator and Catherine Cortez Masto is the first Latina senator.
There is still work to do. According to the 2015 census, women make up roughly 50.8 percent of the country's total population, but their participation in the 115th Congress stands at about 19 percent.
Today and this month, we salute many great women. Women who give my daughter and granddaughters hope and inspiration.
Emanuel Cleaver, II Member of Congress