As we come to the end of 2020, a year that’s been full of unexpected challenges, one bright spot amid all the hardships is the election of Kamala Harris—the first woman, African American, and Asian American—as Vice President of the United States. Harris’s election propitiously comes 100 years after the passage of the 19th Amendment and the expansion of women’s right to vote in the United States. In the decades before its ratification in 1920, girls fought alongside women to show that their voices indeed matter. While the 19th Amendment marked a significant milestone in the struggle for equal rights, the work was, of course, not over and in many ways was just beginning. Over the past 100 years, women have continued to fight to make their voices heard, especially in politics, where they continue to be underrepresented. Harris’s election to the second-highest political office in the land is the result of these generations of activism. While her election signals a significant crack in that glass ceiling, there are many struggles yet to come. As we approach these challenges, Harris reminds us of the value of building upon the collective strength and wisdom of girls and women. In an interview, she reflected: “What I want young women and girls to know is: You are powerful and your voice matters. You’re going to walk into many rooms in your life and career where you may be the only one who looks like you or who has had the experiences you’ve had. But you remember that when you are in those rooms, you are not alone. We are all in that room with you applauding you on. Cheering your voice. And just so proud of you. So you use that voice and be strong.”
2020 witnessed many examples of young people expressing their voices, whether in protest against racial injustice or in the right to vote. Girls took to the streets to show that Black Lives Matter, and they won’t be silent anymore. This year’s election saw an increase in voter turnout among young people, which helped propel Harris and Biden to victory. Girls’ activism is of course nothing new. Young people have been instrumental in movements for justice and equality throughout history, whether in advocating for better working conditions, greater educational opportunities, or more equitable political rights. In all these cases, people dismissed girls, and it was easy for girls to be drowned out by louder, more bombastic figures. Yet girls persevered, despite these obstacles and naysayers, knowing that their voices do indeed matter.
2021 will undoubtedly bring its own difficulties (hopefully not as many as 2020), and as we turn to the future, we must think about how we will use our voices to confront the challenges of our time. As we face the uncertainties and difficulties ahead, it’s important to remember Harris’s words—that we are not alone, that our voice matters, and we have the strength and support of generations of girls and young women behind us.
Girl Museum Inc.