“While I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities. And to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they’ve never seen it before.” Kamala Harris
Over the past few weeks, it seems the entire world has been on the edge of its seat, awaiting the result of what is potentially one of the most influential elections in U.S. history. Now that the votes have been counted, and the president announced, many people from across the globe have been rejoicing – not just for the result itself, but for what that result represents. But whatever your political stance or beliefs, there is one thing that everyone should be celebrating this month: namely, the appointment of Kamala Harris as Vice President Elect. Why? Because she is the first woman, and the first woman of colour, to ever have held this position in U.S. history.
I am not American, and have only set foot on U.S. soil once in my life; yet I feel incredibly moved and decidedly empowered by the appointment of a female Vice President, despite having been brought up in a country which has experienced a number of female Prime Ministers. It is no secret that America is one of the world’s most powerful countries. It is also no secret that America is fully aware of the power it wields, and its potential to influence the decisions of countless other nations, to pave the way in social and political matters. Kamala Harris’ appointment as Vice President Elect feels, then, like a deliberate message of positivity: although the fight for gender equality is far from over, we have come much further than it may sometimes feel.
This year, more than ever, people have begun to question the idea of representation, and why this matters. Many people – myself included – have sought become more self-reflective, more open-minded, more inclusive. In this way, Harris’ position as Vice President provides a more realistic representation of modern-day American society, and shows under-represented or marginalised groups that they are valued, and that their voice and their opinions are important. In her incredibly well-articulated and now globally-admired victory speech, Harris addressed the little girls of America – but, in reality, her influence reaches much further than this. Because, in appointing a woman of colour as Vice President Elect, America has inspired hope among children and young people all over the world, and has shaken up many people’s somewhat archaic idea of what political power can mean. Whatever your political alignment, this historical milestone should be something to be celebrated.