In the U.S., the number of female candidates running for midterm elections has doubled compared to 2016. This is an awakening provoked by Donald Trump’s election, as well as by the fear of seeing a pushback in women’s rights.
Can you feel it, the little feminist breeze dusting over and messing up even the glossiest blonde hair from L.A. to Washington? Inhale it, because it will not dissipate. For women, for their rights, for their struggles and for all those who advocate for gender equality, Donald Trump’s rise to power is a disaster. His campaign did not foretell anything different, and the last 18 months have only confirmed it.
From his statement encouraging men to “grab women by the pussy” to the 19 sexual assault accusations against him, his trivialization of domestic violence while president to protect several people close to him, the suspension of measures for wage equality and cuts in the budget for Planned Parenthood, times are tough.
Even though 42 percent of his supporters were women in the 2016 election, the majority of American women have realized the disaster. As soon as Trump was elected, hundreds of thousands of women participated in the Women’s March. Wearing pink pussy hats to denounce the vulgarity of the new White House leader and the incomprehensible impunity he seemed to enjoy, they made it clear that they were getting ready to jump into the political arena.
It is now a done deal: American women are twice as likely to run in the midterm elections this year than they were in 2016. It’s unprecedented. Encouraged by the #MeToo movement, they are organizing. They are actresses, writers, developers, former servicewomen, Democrats and Republicans, often simple members of civil society and candidates for the Nov. 6 elections convinced that their political involvement can change the course of things.
This awakening is delightful. Paradoxically, we owe it to Trump. His election served as an electric shock. No offense to the opposition, but the pussy hats should not be reduced to being a passing trend, or the expression of an ephemeral anger. The mobilization of women does not end with holding signs and creating slogans. The resistance appeared to be running out of steam, but now it is transforming into genuine excitement that is pushing women to seek public office.
It is about time. Women only represent 19.8 percent of the 535 elected officials in Congress. Switzerland fares slightly better with a representative body that is 24.3 percent women.
The Democratic senator, Tammy Duckworth, who is the first U.S. senator to give birth while in office, just paved the way by changing Senate rules that were detrimental to mothers. That is evidence of how essential women’s presence is within the circles of power. American women are breathing new life into society and they have not had the last word yet. And as women in Switzerland, neither have we.