More Than a VP: What Kamala Harris’ Election Means to Women


“Kamala Harris in Her White Suit”- The New York Times

Sammy Rosin, Currents Associate Editor

In 2016, they said that America wasn’t ready for a woman president. That was an excuse, an explanation with no merit intended to keep women in the same “ inferior”  position as the past 240 years.  Not all people can admit that women are strong, smart, and powerful enough to lead the country, but this dismissal has only fueled the fight for equality. Kamala Harris represents women’s hard earned progress over the past 100 years. She is not the grand finale to the movement but the fiery opening act in a procession of strong women to come. As Harris said herself during her acceptance speech, “I may be the first woman to hold this office. But I won’t be the last.”

Watching and listening to Vice President Kamala Harris speak directly to women, women of all races, income levels and age groups, I felt overwhelming pride. At the same time, I wasn’t down on my knees thanking my country because a woman should have been elected Vice President before 2020. Women throughout the United States have made significant strides over the past 100 years, but seeing a woman elected to one of the highest positions of power in this country made me realize how this is a  necessary step forward. For America to find unity, we need to have a woman in power. While presidents have been speaking to the American people throughout the ages, were any of them truly speaking to women and girls? Could any of the 45 past male Presidents and Vice Presidents understand what it is like to be a woman in a patriarchal society?  

Radnor High School Executive Director Sheila Esgro commented on Harris’s election, “She will definitely be a huge success and a great role model for generations of girls to come. She is already very accomplished and deserving of the position.” 

Becoming the first woman Vice President was not the only groundbreaking accomplishment Harris has achieved this election season. As the daughter of two immigrants, she is also the first person of color to be Vice President. In a country where white dominance prevails, this moment shows progress towards a more inclusive and accepting country. 

As an Indian American immigrant, RHS student Akshaya Bharath explained, “I can’t express the feeling of knowing that the VP elect’s mother is from my city, and she’s like my mom. It’s the actual first time I feel SEEN by my country.” For a lot of her life, Akshaya shied away from embracing her culture in public. She explained the sentiment is shared by many other Indians, especially those from the Southern part of the country,  since they are often discriminated against. 

Akshaya shared, “I haven’t said my name correctly in 10+ years because I was too embarrassed. I haven’t brought  home food to school since I was 7. I didn’t bother learning my language until I was 12 because I wanted to be American so badly. I might not like Kamala Harris, but if she can be VP maybe that means I can be accepted by America too.” By breaking gender, race, and culture barriers in the political world, Harris represents more than just the democratic progress. The dignity and value the U.S will show their new VP will set the stage for Americans of all backgrounds. 

“This is not a moment, it’s a movement,” according to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton.  Women have been pushing for equal rights for years, especially in the political world. Women have been gaining political power since Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton fought for our right to vote in the 1840s, and Kamala Harris becoming VP  demonstrates that we are making meaningful progress. In recent years, inspiring women, including more women of color such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Stacey Abrams, and Cori Bush,  have entered the political spotlight. For the first time, people are listening to them. 

Despite this success, the gender gap in politics is still striking. In total, 12,348 men have served in congress. For women, this number is 366, which is 3% of the amount of men. In 2020, there are 101 women currently in the House, which is only 23.2% of representatives, and there are 26 women senators, only 26%. Yet, women make up 50.3% of the US population. Sheila emphasized, “With Harris as the Vice President elect, one thing I hope to see progress with is the addressing and ending of the gender pay gap. Additionally, [I’d like to see] more women filling executive positions in companies and businesses all over the country.”

We are lucky to have a woman principal, Mrs. Kevgas, here at RHS. In reaction to a woman being elected VP,  Mrs. Kevgas said, “As a mother of two young ladies, it was a truly memorable evening being able to share this historic moment with my own children who are raised to know that there are no limitations to what they can achieve.” It is a human right for women and girls to have the same equal opportunities as men and boys throughout life. The United States has not accomplished perfect equality, but there are still many other places in the world where women are denied these basic human rights. As Mrs. Kevgas explains, “The true definition of feminism to me is celebrating and supporting a woman’s choice to be whatever she chooses to be or not be. We must continue to help other societies and cultures around the world achieve the same equality that women in the United States have and make sure that we never take our freedoms or rights for granted.”

Kamala Harris pushed through disrespect that no VP should face because of her gender and race. Trump labeled her a “monster,” and other politicians have mispronounced the VP’s name to be purposely demeaning. In the end, Harris still spoke to all people. Her acceptance speech emphasized unity and progress. That is what it means to be a leader.