In celebration of National Women’s History Month, I’m sharing my favorite female politicians and why they inspire me. Like all politicians, each of these women have her detractors, but it lends proof to the concept that women have to work that much harder to make their voices heard.
Michelle Obama – Although not technically a politician, former First Lady, Michelle Obama is definitely on my list. Her grace, intelligence, compassion, and charisma make her an inspiration to women and girls the world over, demonstrating what they can achieve. Following her graduation from Harvard, she worked at a Chicago law firm, where she met her husband, the future U.S. president Barack Obama. As first lady, she focused her attention on social issues such as poverty, healthy living, and education (the same areas near and dear to me). I also love that she is a wonderful speaker and has an exuberant personality, whether she’s reading to children, appearing on a talk show, or giving an impassioned speech on working together rather than being divided.
Stacy Abrams – An American politician, lawyer, and novelist who served as Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017. Like Michelle Obama, I admire Abrams for her intellect, passion, and strength. And, of course, she is a writer! She was the first black female major-party gubernatorial nominee in the history of the United States. In early February 2019, Abrams was the first African-American woman to deliver a State of the Union response to President Trump’s address.
Queen Elizabeth II – She’s also not technically a politician, but the 92-year-old Queen is a force to be reckoned with. The Queen has ruled for longer than any other Monarch in British history, and I was visiting London as she celebrated 60 years on the throne. Elizabeth has faced tough times too, but I admire her grace, devotion, and sense of duty to a life of service. Her extraordinary reign has seen her travel more widely than any other monarch, undertaking many historic overseas visits.
Kamala Harris – This U.S. Senator from California gained my respect and support during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, when the former San Francisco District Attorney coolly demanded Kavanaugh answer her questions either “yes” or “no” instead of pontificating with legalize. I admire for seeking the presidency of the United States during very divisive times.
Amy Klobuchar – U.S. Senator from Minnesota – I can’t leave out an exceptional presence in my home state! Klobuchar is also a former prosecutor, serving as Hennepin County Attorney. In 2006 she was elected as the first female senator from Minnesota. Like Kamala Harris, Klobuchar is making a run for the presidency in 2020. I admire both Klobuchar and Harris for having the courage to take a stand politically, and for being willing to put their lives under constant scrutiny.
Angela Merkel – Having grown up in East Germany, I respect Merkel for surviving that ordeal alone. But as Chancellor of Germany, she’s tough and smart, having helped the country weather the Euro debt crisis and forcible annexation of Crimea. When pro-Russian gunmen seized territory in eastern Ukraine, Merkel joined other Western leaders in accusing Russia of directly fomenting the conflict. Facing anti-immigrant sentiments similar to those in the U.S. Merkel’s support has eroded somewhat due to the backlash against the influx of migrants.
Janet Reno – The first woman to serve as Attorney General, under President Bill Clinton. I admired her no-nonsense attitude and strength. Reno worked to secure greater protection for women seeking abortions, who were often victims of physical harassment from antiabortion activists. Her most controversial early decision, however, was her ordering agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to conduct the final raid on the compound of the Branch Davidian cult near Waco, Texas. I admire her for her candor and for taking full responsibility and expressing regret over law enforcement’s handling of the raid.
Ann Richards – The second female governor of Texas, one of the things I loved about her was how feisty and fearless she was. Elected in 1990, Richards made good on her promise to increase the number of women and minorities in state government by adding African Americans and women to the Texas Rangers, a law enforcement agency. She also created the state lottery and improved the prison system, all while possessing a wicked sense of humor that often made me laugh.
Who are the women in politics who inspire you?