It would seem that womenís voices spoke out loud and clear in this yearís election and I am very proud of the women and men around this country that stood up for gender equality.
Studies have shown in the past that most women vote like their husbands, but I think this year it may have been the other way around. My sisterís boyfriend after the election was over said, ďIf I had been a single guy, raised as an only child, with no exposure to women I would have voted for Romney, but there are too many women in life for me to ignore what he stands for.Ē
He and many other men throughout this country who love the women in their lives got out and voted to ensure that the female population in America is represented.
Women made some big gains in politics in this election. For instance, Tammy Baldwin became Wisconsinís first woman senator; New Hampshire became the very first state in American history to elect all women to their top political seats, they have two women senators, two women in the House of Representatives, and a woman as governor; Mazie Hirono, of Hawaii, became the first Asian-American woman senator. For the first time in history one in five senators is now a woman. The senate is now 20 percent women and the House of Representatives is now 18 percent women.
Though these are great victories for women, 18 and 20 percent does not make up gender parity. More women need to keep stepping forward to take their place in top leadership positions, not only in politics, but in business, education, health, non-profits, and places in the community. Women also need to get out and vote.
One study, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, showed that about two-thirds of the rural populations vote republican in national elections. This raises the question, ďare more rural residents republican, or are rural democrats not getting out and voting?Ē During the last election, I was visiting several small towns throughout the Valley and asking residents who were walking on the streets where the voting station was in their town, many did not know, some didnít even know it was election day. Of course these are a minority, but the experience was a little disheartening.
There is a poster on the wall at the Conejos County Courthouse that reads, ďIf you donít vote you canít complain.Ē If that rule of thumb were actually followed, it would eliminate a lot of political complainers.
Some experts went on to say that rural residents vote less often then their urban counterparts, and that rural women vote even less then rural men. A recent New York Times article read that residents are leaving rural areas in throngs. The article argued, ďas the number of rural voters dwindle, so does their influence ó which could have broad implications for how the Republican primaries and the general election play out.Ē This New York Times article seems to suggest that those who leave rural areas behind leave the rural vote there, too.
What they donít understand is that you can take the girl out of the country, but not the country out of the girl. Home is always in my heart and the Valley is my home. Even when I lived in big cities and traveled all around this beautiful country of ours, the Valley was always on my mind and the values I was taught here never left me.
I know not everyone is happy about the election results and not all the results turned out the way I wanted them to, but I hope we can all agree that gender equality is needed, desirable and beneficial to all Americans. I know I will probably get some letters to the contrary, so I will thank the men in advance who are going to write to me; you may not agree with me, but if you are reading this article and if you read my column every week just know that as a woman I am impacting your life through my words and I see that as a great honor. I may only be one woman, but as a woman with influence I hope I inspire many more women, and each of those women have the power to influence many others, who will influence others and so on. That is the power of womenís voices.
So donít be afraid, women, to use your voice, believe in your voice, and let your voice empower you. It has been said that women talk too much, but I think that was only because those who said that didnít like what women had to say. I think in this election they had no choice but to listen and women are saying that we want equality, we want to be heard, and we want to be represented.
Tori Vigil is an author, inspirational speaker, and reporter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org