This Week’s Takeaway? Every Little Girl Can Be POTUS

Issue 158 — January 25, 2021

Each week I write about what the week just past has taught us. I reflect on what happened and search for the larger meaning in its disparate events. I look through the lens of whether it’s been good for women or bad for women. I search for trends. And I look for moments of power shifts related to gender and race.

Well let me just say last week took the prize on all those fronts.

It was one to the most meaningful weeks of recent American history.

Hashtags #racialequality #genderequality #leadership #justice #courage #powerfulwomen #genderparityby2025 #taketheleadwomen #secondgentleman #firstwomanvicepresident

And so much more.

Kamala Beams, Bernie Memes, Purple Reigns, Amanda Explains and Many Girls Are Inspired to Run for President

Topping all the charts, a beaming Kamala Harris took the oath of office to become the first ever female, Black, and South Asian Vice President of the United States of America.

That’s a mouthful of intersecting identities, all swelling with pride as she assumed the second highest political position in the land.

Photo by Alex Wong, originally published by NPR

Sworn in by the first ever Latina justice of the U. S. Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, Harris committed to protect and defend the Constitution on two Bibles, one of them having belonged to the first ever Black Justice, Thurgood Marshall. Holding the Bibles and beaming along with her was the first ever second gentleman, otherwise known as the second mensch, since he is the first Jewish person of either gender to serve in that post.

Having our first second gentleman is almost as significant as having our first female Vice President when you think about it, for it signals another significant step toward true gender equality.

It was a tableau of the diverse America I love. The one where anyone can achieve greatness if you’re willing to work hard enough, and every little girl regardless of the color of her skin can aspire to be President. My friend, ERA Coalition Co-President Carol Jenkins said her granddaughter has already written a letter to Vice President Harris informing her that she plans to run for the highest office in the land when she is old enough.

What a beautiful love filled, pearl and purple wearing contrast to the hate-driven lawless mobs who attacked the citadel of democracy on January 6.

Fittingly, the week had begun with Martin Luther King Day. Honoring King’s leadership for Civil Rights felt like a cleansing astringent, preparing the way for the fruits of his labor to be realized by many women and men who together have bent the arc of the moral universe he spoke of toward justice.

The homage to Dr. King was bookended equally fittingly by the first ever youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman reciting her stunning poem “The Hill We Climb.” She illuminated this bright new day in her sunshine yellow coat with phrases like “There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

The verse that resonated most with me was this one:

And then there was Bernie Sanders in his handmade mittens and sensible coat that became a viral social media meme for the everyman/woman that Bernie represents. I created this one myself placing him in my Scottsdale, AZ neighborhood.

The symbols this week practically clanged themselves. But here is the loudest, strongest, most transformational message, from journalist Jodi Enda on the choices Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have made for appointments to cabinet and other top advisor posts: “There are plenty of top-notch people in every demographic group for even the most high-level jobs. You just have to see them and open the barricades that have blocked them from serving.”

Progress. Is. Possible.

In visual affirmation of the principle that there are plenty of qualified people, feast your eyes and mind on this month’s cover of Ms. Magazine.

Quoting from the magazine:

“The new issue of Ms. celebrates and explores the transformational shift to a new era of gender equality, with feminist women holding some of the most consequential levers of power. For the first time in U.S. history, the presidential Cabinet appointments will reach gender parity; the House of Representatives is led by a feminist woman speaker and feminists chair some of the most powerful committees including the Appropriations and the Oversight and Reform committees; and Kamala Harris will be the first woman and first Black and South Asian to be vice president.”

Ms. set me on my path to a lifetime of work for women’s equality. For those who say my goal of gender parity in leadership by 2025 in all sectors (Take The Lead’s mission) is impossible, that collage says “Yes we can, and in fact we are doing it.”

Want to join this movement? Tweet me at @GloriaFeldt or email me takethelead@taketheleadwomen.com and let me know how you would like to get involved. We need volunteers and donors, and we want to serve you on your career journey up to and including your aspirations to become President. Our website has full information about our training and coaching for individuals and companies: www.taketheleadwomen.com.

Me with Kamala Harris when she was running for president, a reminder that even if you don’t win when you try to do something big, other opportunities maybe even better will come along.

GLORIA FELDT is the Cofounder and President of Take The Lead, a motivational speaker and expert women’s leadership developer for companies that want to build gender balance, and a bestselling author of four books, most recently No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Former President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she teaches “Women, Power, and Leadership” at Arizona State University and is a frequent media commentator. Learn more at www.gloriafeldt.com and www.taketheleadwomen.com. Tweet Gloria Feldt.

Gloria Feldt is a New York Times bestselling author and co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a nonprofit women’s leadership organization.

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