Celebrating History and Unity: the Women at the Democratic National Convention

Last week, women and girls across the country watched with a wide range of emotion as Hillary Clinton became the first woman to accept a major party’s nomination for president.

This is clearly an historic moment. Women have fought tirelessly for generations to be granted full and equal citizenship. And finally, two hundred forty years after our nation’s founding, just under 100 years after women were granted the right to vote, a woman is closer than ever to serving in our nation’s highest office.

Participants in the Womens Caucus listen to interim Chair Donna Brazile. Photo credit: D. Miller/DNCC

So many extraordinary women took part in this moment at the convention. Eleven-year-old Karla Ortiz bravely described her experience living with the fear that her parents could be deported. Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America became the first convention speaker to openly discuss her abortion, and Sarah McBride became the first transgender person to address the DNC, speaking boldly about the fight for LGBT rights. We heard moving tributes from the Mothers of the Movement, and an inspiring call to action from First Lady Michelle Obama.

Amidst the emotion and excitement of the convention, the DNC Women’s Caucus gatherings allowed us the opportunity to pause and focus on the historic nature of this moment, and recommit to addressing the challenges that women still face in our country.

“Abigail Adams told her husband, the future president, ‘Remember the ladies. Remember the ladies,’” DNC interim chair Donna Brazile said to the crowd at the Women’s Caucus. “So let me just say to Abigail, ‘Sister, we remember the ladies because the ladies are now here in charge.’”

Speakers like former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis helped us recognize that the significance of Hillary Clinton’s nomination goes far beyond symbolism — though seeing a woman on that stage accepting the nomination was certainly a powerful image for our daughters and sons. But reaching this milestone also means that for the first time our nominee is not only someone who has walked in our shoes, “someone who understands what it means to be a woman in America,” but it is also someone who has spent her adult life striving to advance and protect the rights of women and girls. “We have never had the kind of champion that we are going to have in Hillary Clinton.” I can’t agree more, Wendy!

Pledge of Allegiance during the Women’s Caucus. Photo credit: D. Miller/DNCC

And while we honored the progress generations of American women have fought so hard to achieve, and the milestone Hillary Clinton’s nomination represents in our march toward equality, we also shifted our attention on the challenges ahead of us in this election. You know the stakes are high for women when the Republican Party’s nominee for president suggests women facing sexual harassment at work should just “find another career,” says that working with a wife “is a very dangerous thing,” and that pregnancy is an “inconvenience” for employers.

“Come November, women are going to be more than an inconvenience,” Cecile Richards, President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund reminded us. “We’re going to be the reason you’re not elected.”

And as amazing as all of these speeches were, sometimes, there is power in silence. The brave strength of Ghazala Khan, standing on the convention stage, honoring her son Captain Humayan Khan spoke volumes. Her family’s patriotism and her sacrifice are a powerful reminder of what the words “Stronger Together” really mean.

As many of these powerful women leaders reminded us, this election marks an incredible milestone for all Americans but we have so much more to do to advance the interests of women and girls across the country and around the world.. We must recommit ourselves to electing more women at every level of government and fight hard everyday for the issues and policies that will make a real difference in women’s lives. Having the opportunity to spend the week in Philadelphia with so many passionate, brilliant and committed women makes me even more confident that together we will do just that.

Want to help us finally crack that highest, hardest glass ceiling? Follow the campaign on Twitter at @HillaryClinton and @TheBriefing2016. Sign up to volunteer here and if you want to join our growing movement of women leaders who want to push back on Trump’s divisive candidacy, join us!