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OUR TAKE: COULD THIS BE THE NEW NORMAL?

What a week for women!

Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first woman, first black, and first South Asian American US Vice President. She will work closely with newly inaugurated President Joe Biden. Former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton tweeted a picture of Harris holding the hands of her young grand-nieces, pointing out that from now on, a black woman vice president will seem normal to them. 

The symbolism of “firsts” was everywhere: Harris was sworn in by the US’s first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor. Dr Jill Biden, Joe Biden’s wife, will also be the first First Lady to continue her job as a teacher at a US university, while also tackling the onerous duties that come with being the president’s wife. Dr Biden has been lambasted by some (men) over the use of her title – she holds a PhD in educational leadership; – very few men who do the same have had to contend with such criticism.

Then there’s Biden’s cabinet, the first EVER in the US to have equal numbers of women and men. But the US isn’t a pioneer here: we’re proud to say that SA and Rwanda’s cabinets are the same . And we can’t celebrate Biden without raising our glasses to Stacey Abrams, the black woman politician who galvanised support for him in the state of Georgia, effectively giving the Democrats control of the US Senate. 

On Monday, the world also celebrated Martin Luther King Jr day, commemorating the work of the US civil rights movement leader. His daughter, Bernice King, tweeted that the day would not have been possible without her mother, Coretta Scott King.

And closer to home, three more excellent women have taken up senior roles at the NPA – all of them with eye-wateringly impressive CVs (more below). 

It’s true that the world has a long way to go before true gender equality is achieved. But we must celebrate progress where it happens, and support the women leading the way.

As King Jr once said: the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. This week showed that it is slowly bending towards gender equality, too. Strong women: may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them. This should be the NEW normal. 

This story was originally published in The Wrap here.

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