Statement from YWCA USA on the outcome of the 2018 midterm elections
Washington, D.C. — Last night was a historic election night, with record-breaking victories from women and people of color both on the ballot and in voter turnout. An unprecedented number of women ran in the 2018 midterm elections, many for the first time, and women won more seats in Congress than ever before. More than 100 women were elected to office, including over 40 women of color, and there were a number of historic firsts, including:
- Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, the first Muslim women elected to Congress
- Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland, the first Native women elected to Congress
- Abby Finkenauer and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest women ever elected to Congress
- Sharice Davids, the first openly LGBTQ+ Representative in Kansas and the first openly LGBTQ+ woman of color in Congress
- Young Kim, the first Korean American woman ever elected to Congress
- Jahana Hayes and Ayanna Pressley, the first Black Congresswoman ever elected to Congress in Connecticut and Massachusetts
- Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia, the first Latinx Congresswomen from Texas
- Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee’s first female Senator
- Kim Reynolds, Janet Mills, Kristi Noem, and Lou Leon Guerrero, the first female governors of Iowa, Maine, South Dakota, and Guam
- Cindy Axne and Abby Finkenauer, the first female Representatives from Iowa
- Angie Craig, the first openly lesbian mother in Congress and the first openly LGBTQ+ member of Congress from Minnesota
Statement from YWCA USA CEO Alejandra Y. Castillo:
“We applaud the diversity and historic ‘firsts’ in this new cohort of elected officials. From governorships to the House, it is truly exciting to see leaders who are more reflective of the makeup of our country—an increasingly diverse populace of women, people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, young people, and so many more. We are thrilled to see our communities represented like never before, and we look forward to a government that will better represent our values and vision of an inclusive, equitable, just society.
“This is the kind of change that happens when we use our collective power to make our voices heard. Over the past year, we have continued to rally, organize, mobilize, register people to vote, and encourage civic engagement in our communities. Women—and women of color in particular—have led the way this election season, not just as candidates, but as organizers, volunteers, and activists pushing for change and powering grassroots activism. YWCAs across the country engaged in a massive effort to get out the vote in their communities. As an organization that services over 2 million women, girls, and their families each year, we know that our health and safety are acutely impacted by policies and officials on the ballot. Last night’s historic wins and impressive voter turnout—so far, an estimated 113 million people participated, making it the first midterm in U.S. history to exceed over 100 million votes—are evidence of the progress we can make when we organize and work to center the issues and needs of women, families, and communities of color.
“Our voices matter because our future matters. We know that, while we are heartened by this election’s many historic wins, there is still much work to be done. We must continue to stay active, practice civic engagement, and fight to end our country’s legacy of voter suppression and disenfranchisement—something that has an outsized impact on communities of color—for future elections. And as we have for the past 160 years, YWCA will continue to support and advocate for the needs of women, girls, and families across the country, including the Violence Against Women Act, equal pay, paid family and medical leave, an end to racial profiling, and other policy solutions that are so central to our mission.
“While we welcome this new wave of diverse political leaders and celebrate the progress made, we will keep working to move policies forward that allow women, girls, and people of color to be safe and empowered, and we will continue to hold all of our elected officials accountable to ensure that they truly represent the interests and needs of our communities. We are committed to fighting for racial and gender justice, helping families, and standing up for ourselves and our communities, and we won’t stop now.”