Two weeks ago, I spent time in Philadelphia at the Democratic National Convention where the party nominated the first ever woman to lead this country.

It only took us 228 years to realize that a woman can lead our country.  Women didn’t win the right the vote until the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920.  But, the first female candidate for president came 48 years earlier in 1872 when Victoria Woodhull of Ohio ran as an Equal Rights Party candidate.  Her platform included an eight-hour workday, women’s suffrage, and an end to the death penalty.

Penny Rich

Penny Rich

Woodhull was a pioneer, speaking before Congress regarding equal voting rights.  She also opened the first women-owned brokerage firm on Wall Street.  There is no record of how she fared in that election.  But, she paved the way for other women to consider a bid.

Belva Ann Lockwood received 4,149 votes in 1884.  Margaret Chase Smith earned 27 delegates at the Republican National Convention in 1964.  Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm received 430,703 votes in 1972.  Lenora Fulani became the first woman to get on the ballot in all 50 states as a third party candidate in 1988.  Hillary Clinton achieved the best showing by a woman in a primary in 2008.  Green Party candidate Jill Stein ran in 2012.

Why has it taken us so long to nominate a woman to the highest office in America?  Well, it has to do with how many women get involved in politics from the get-go.

Women are not encouraged to get involved in the political process at an early age.  There are only 20 women senators.  That’s 20 percent.  Only 104 congresswomen, that’s 19.4 percent.  There are currently only six women governors.

Yet, women make up 51 percent of America.  We are in the majority.  Let’s start encouraging our daughters, our nieces, and young woman friends to get involved, stay involved, and to reach for the sky.

As Hillary Clinton said two weeks ago, “When any barrier falls in America, for anyone, it clears the way for everyone.  When there are no ceilings, the sky is the limit.”

So, let’s keep going until every one of the 161 million women and girls has the opportunity she deserves.


— Penny Rich


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