Over the years, American politics has been shaped by numerous influential figures. Among them, many women have made significant contributions, challenging stereotypes, breaking barriers, and setting examples for future generations. Let’s take a moment to appreciate 15 of the most influential women in American politics over the years.
1. Susan B. Anthony
An iconic figure in the women’s rights movement, Susan B. Anthony tirelessly fought for women’s suffrage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She co-founded the National Woman Suffrage Association and played a critical role in advocating for the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. Her tireless advocacy laid the groundwork for future generations of women in politics.
2. Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt, the longest-serving First Lady of the United States, redefined the role during her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four-term presidency. She became an outspoken advocate for civil rights and women’s rights. Post-presidency, she continued her advocacy as a delegate to the United Nations, where she played a pivotal role in drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
3. Shirley Chisholm
As the first African American woman elected to Congress, Shirley Chisholm made history in 1968. She championed for education opportunities and social justice throughout her career. In 1972, she further shattered glass ceilings as the first major-party Black candidate and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
4. Sandra Day O’Connor
Appointed by President Ronald Reagan, Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court. During her tenure from 1981 to 2006, she often provided the deciding vote in important cases, influencing various areas of law. Her balanced and pragmatic approach to cases shaped judicial decisions for a quarter of a century.
5. Madeleine Albright
In 1997, Madeleine Albright became the first woman to hold the position of U.S. Secretary of State. She was known for her strong stance on human rights and democracy. During her tenure, she played a critical role in shaping American foreign policy, particularly in the Balkans and the Middle East.
6. Nancy Pelosi
It was Nancy Pelosi who made history in 2007 when she became the first female Speaker of the House. A fierce advocate for healthcare reform and women’s rights, Pelosi has been instrumental in passing critical legislation, including the Affordable Care Act. Her leadership and political acumen have made her one of the most powerful women in American politics.
7. Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice served as the first African American woman Secretary of State under President George W. Bush. Prior to that, she was the first woman to serve as National Security Advisor. Known for her intellect and diplomacy, Rice played a pivotal role in shaping U.S. foreign policy in the aftermath of 9/11.
8. Hillary Clinton
In addition to being the first woman nominated for the presidency by a major party, Hillary Clinton has also served as First Lady, a Senator from New York, and Secretary of State. Her advocacy for healthcare reform and women’s rights, along with her extensive experience in foreign policy, has left an indelible mark on American politics.
9. Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a towering figure in the fight for women’s rights. Her legal career was marked by a series of cases fighting gender discrimination. As a Justice, she continued her advocacy, becoming a cultural icon known as the “Notorious RBG” for her strong dissents.
10. Elizabeth Warren
Former law professor Elizabeth Warren, has made a significant impact as a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. Her work has often centered on financial issues, specifically advocating for the middle class and challenging big corporations. Her policy-driven approach and dedication to economic fairness have made her a leading voice in American politics.
11. Kamala Harris
During her political career, Kamala Harris has achieved a number of firsts – becoming the first woman of South Asian descent and the second African American woman in the Senate, and becoming the first African American woman, the first woman of color, and the first person of South Asian descent elected Vice President. Her career has been marked by a commitment to social justice and a determination to break down barriers.
12. Michelle Obama
As First Lady, Michelle Obama was much more than a ceremonial figure. She launched and led several initiatives focused on health, military families, and education. Her charisma, intelligence, and advocacy for issues like childhood obesity and girls’ education, coupled with her powerful speeches, have left a lasting impact.
13. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Often known as AOC, Cortez made history as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress in 2018. Known for her progressive policies and savvy use of social media, AOC has become a powerful voice for climate change, income inequality, and healthcare reform, reflecting a new wave of younger, more diverse voices in politics.
14. Stacey Abrams
A former minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, Stacey Adams, gained national recognition for her work around voting rights. Although narrowly losing the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election, her efforts to combat voter suppression and increase participation in the electoral process played a significant role in reshaping Georgia’s political landscape.
15. Amy Klobuchar
Amy Klobuchar, a U.S. Senator from Minnesota, has made a name for herself through her pragmatism and bipartisan efforts. She has championed issues like healthcare, climate change, and digital privacy. Her practical, results-driven approach has made her a respected figure on both sides of the aisle.
From the suffrage movement to the highest offices in the land, women have shaped American politics in countless ways. These 15 women represent a small fraction of the numerous female leaders who have left, and continue to leave, their mark on the political landscape. Their influence serves as a testament to the strides women have made in politics and as an inspiration for future generations of women leaders.
More from us:
You might also like: