Across the country, the midterm elections in the United States saw the highest levels of female political engagement ever recorded, leading many to label this the “Year of the Woman”. Out of 277 female candidates for Congress and governor, 116 won the polls, including 95 seats in the House (21.8% of House seats), 12 seats in the Senate (12% of Senate seats) and 9 governor seats (18% of governor seats). Many election records were broken; the highest number of women candidates for the Senate, the House of Representatives and gubernatorial positions, the first Native American women elected to Congress, the first Muslim women in Congress, the first female senator to represent Tennessee, the first female senator from Arizona, the first Hispanic women to Congress and South Dakota's first female governor.
Although the positive shifts in terms of women’s political participation are visible, a lot remains to be done. Women are still underrepresented at the local, state, and national level across the U.S. Moreover, women still face immense challenges, especially regarding their political participation. The gender gap in recruitment, as well as implicit and explicit biases, are just a few obstacles that prevent women from being a part of political processes. They continue to be largely absent from senior leadership positions, meaning that they lack the platform to tackle these obstacles. Such barriers are deeply embedded in political structures and cannot be solved by simply encouraging female participation.
Nevertheless, the visible increase in women’s political participation remains a positive trend that has the capacity to generate a more gender-sensitive vision in U.S. politics. Gender Concerns International recognizes the importance of female participation in the current midterm elections and hopes that this will stimulate greater gender parity in the U.S. in the future, as well as catalyze further constructive changes for the female electorate in the country.