Before, during and after the colonial period, American women were mostly socialised within the domestic sphere. American women history before the 20th Century depicts them in subversive roles most of which are within the home or immediate community. In these roles, women are simply care givers for their husbands and children. The colonial tradition held women in the Christian perspective, as subversive to men and charged with the sole responsibility of managing their homes and raring God-fearing children.
It is therefore understandable why the American women history lacks any spectacular accounts of women shaping the political events of the time. Indeed, women’s participation and inclusion in national politics remained very low for years after they gained the right to vote in 1920. By 1994 (only two and a half decades ago), only two women had served in the United States Senate. Less than 12 had been Congressional Representatives prior to 1955. Today, we have 16 Senators and 67 Congress representatives, which translate to around 15% of the total United States Congress.
As yet, no woman has entered the annals of American women history as a presidential nominee for any of the major parties. At least four, however, have run either as Vice President Nominee or gone as far as seeking their party’s. Among the most notable women in the American women history as regards holding leadership positions in the nation include Belva Lockwood, who in 1879 became the very first woman to ever practice law in the US Supreme Court. Over a century later in 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor attained the honour of the first ever female member of the US Supreme Court. Sandra was to be joined later by Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor as the second and third Supreme Court serving member respectively.
On 4th January 2007, another first in the American women history was achieved, with Nancy Pelosi becoming the first ever female Speaker of the US House of representatives. This was closely followed by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first, during the 2008 presidential campaign. Clinton’s achievement is in itself among the most significant in the American women history, having won over 1,896 delegate votes against Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential Nomination. In the same year, Sarah Palin, an Alaskan Governor of repute became the first ever female Vice Presidential Nominee from the Republican Party.
A surface look at these statistics cannot capture in full the complex nature of women integration in national politics. The American women history constitutes of a tale in which women have had to overcome overwhelming challenges, override great opposition, satisfy awesome expectations and bear delimiting social responsibilities.
The last two generations of American women have triggered a remarkable social shift in the integration of women politicians within mainstream national politics. The American public has stated its willingness to support and vote for an American woman as their leader. Consequently many opportunities are opening up for the female gender to join the decision making tables around the nation and make an impact in forging an American future.