Harris shows the way!

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Mumeninaz Zaman 

“While I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last,” — an assurance that the US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris gave to every girl in her first victory speech.

She dances in the rain and pairs a pantsuit with Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers. Harris’s preference for shoes says something meaningful about her. Ditching the standard shoe etiquette for women and routinely wearing sneakers during her campaign trails, speaks volumes that she is up for some serious business.

Well, this space is not about shoes, but Harris’s choice of breaking the conventional mode makes her more adaptable, authentic and connects her with the younger audience.

While a lot has appreciated her comfortable choice, she was also ridiculed and questioned by many. Likewise, when she was downplayed for being a colored woman, with a mixed-race and for just being a woman, she remained undeterred and vanquished the odds by becoming the Vice President of the United States.

History was scripted in America after Democrat Joe Biden, defeated Donald Trump to become the 46th President of the United States. But what caught people’s attention was the winning feat of Harris. With her ascension to the vice presidency, she will become the first person of color and first Asian-American to hold the position of Vice President-elect. Also, dubbed as ‘female Obama’ what makes her win unique is- she is the first woman Vice President of the US.

Although Harris is known for many firsts to her name, here we would perceive her as a woman of action who has rolled up her sleeves prior to her journey to the White House.

The United States is a diverse country, racially and ethnically. After four tumultuous years of Trump administration, the Democrats came as a sigh of relief for the people in the States. Over the years under the Trump administration, America has seen a sea of change in terms of restrictive immigration policies, destructive environmental choices, and isolationist approaches to matters of global concern. However, as Biden-Harris took over it seems the air will change for the better.

During the election campaign, some of the major changes that the Democrat party is looking up to is not just to rebuild what has worked in the past but they consider it as an opportunity to build back better than ever. Some of the challenges that have been in the bucket list of the newly elected duo are confronting the pandemic, an economic crisis, calls for racial justice and climate change.

While speaking for the first time after the result Harris said, “We the people have the power to build a better future.”

“You have delivered a clear message. You chose hope and unity, decency, science and yes, truth. You assured a new day for America,” added Harris.

Coming from a mixed-race Harris has experienced her share of discrimination for being a woman and a daughter of immigrants.

Biden’s decision to pick Harris as his running mate had its own benefits. Being a daughter of immigrants and being black, she was able to convince the voters belonging to her community for a better and inclusive America.

She has been a strong critic and never shied away from talking about racism and sexism which women had to face even in a powerful country like America.

During her campaign trials, she oftimes talked about her mother who influenced her and raised her to be a strong woman.

Harris often spoke of her barrier-breaking life during her presidential campaign, saying that she understood how being the first requires voters to “see what can be unburdened by what has been.”

We have seen women in power as presidents or prime ministers. Women often misunderstood, ignored and categorized as ‘the weaker sex’ have negated the old adage to emerge as superwomen, super-moms and multi-taskers, storming all bastions of life.

It has been seen that women’s participation in the political arena creates an opportunity for them to rise to the ranks of Prime Minister or President. While some have led countries with gender equality, others have led hardcore patriarchal society. However, they have often held weaker positions than the presidency worldwide.

There is no denying the fact that women’s participation in the highest positions can bring in more diverse viewpoints, inclusiveness and new policy priorities. Some of the world leaders have demonstrated an exemplary leadership over the years.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is known for her bold and compassionate outlook. During the Christchurch mosque shooting, she amended gun laws by banning the sale of semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles in the country. A male leader would have probably been rational, she handled the situation in a much more empathetic manner. She wore a headscarf, attended prayers while comforting the Muslim victims. She was universally praised for her leadership during the crisis, which was identified as a ‘feminine approach’. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s approach to the economic stability in the country has been praised by diplomats and leaders of various strata. A developing country with a booming economy, her leadership has been credited for her commitments in fulfilling the Vision 2041. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s move to prioritize gender equality by bringing in a family leave policy to both the parents after a child’s birth talks much about inclusivity. Katrin Jakobsdottir, Prime Minister of Iceland is known as a staunch environmentalist who is hoping to make the country carbon neutral by 2040.

Women have faced obstacles in every sphere, however, fortunately, these outdated perceptions are decreasing marginally with more women making a vital contribution towards society. The change in perception is perhaps the starting point of breaking the glass ceiling.

Harris will become the highest-ranking woman to ever serve in the US government. With her inclusion to the rank, she gives hope and told children to “dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourselves in a way that others may not simply because they have never seen it before.”

Video sourced from Twitter

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