- The President’s address with two women behind him gave me what I was looking for the most. Faith.
Wednesday, April 28,2021 was the historic day when the President of the United States, Joseph Biden, addressed the Congress, flanked by the Vice President and the Speaker of the House. It was a tradition. But because both these seats filled by women, it became historic.
The two women from California, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris, both the first women to hold their positions created history. President Biden recognized the historic moment at the start of his remark, “Madame Speaker, Madame Vice President,” as the roughly 200-person chamber burst into applause.
“No president has ever said those words from this podium, and it’s about time,” he said.
This administration has had quite a few historic firsts. Let us begin by saying the pandemic is a historic, long drawn out first. The first woman of color to officiate as the Vice President of the United States. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi for her part, has led the Democratic Party’s House caucus for nearly two decades and shattered her share of glass ceilings along the way.
Much of the normal pageantry that envelops the speech was missing. Most of the Supreme Court, Biden’s Cabinet, and the diplomatic corps, did not join. Ovation seemed muted in the spacious halls and the voices carried beyond average. The representatives of the President’s party were customarily diving out of their chairs to give enduring prolonged applause as is normal during these settings.
But social distancing meant that there were lesser places to hide for lawmakers whose reactions who are fodder for meme makers on social media as they are caught scowling, smiling, or sleeping. Though every Representative and Senator has had access to vaccines since December, not all have vaccinated themselves. However, to be present in the chamber, true to the science first nature of this administration, the attendees had to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test 48 hours before the event. A delight to see such decorum.
Like so many other women around America, last night, was high on emotion. Not only because of what it represented for us and the generations of women to come, but also because the voice carrying the message had the passion and desire that wanted to create the America, we all have aspired for.
The tears in our eyes did not quell only because of the sheer emotional significance of the historic moment in front of us, but because of the possibilities that the most incisive SOTU address ever made by a President created for us as citizens. It gave me what I was looking for the most. Faith.
The last few years have shown us that when democratic values in a nation are under attack, the first privileges to fall are the ones that impact women’s liberties the most. Time and again, dictators have consolidated their power by curbing civil liberties of women, minorities and the marginalized.
One specific remark that President Biden made which I thought was the most representative of the moment for all of us, but specifically for all women was that as Americans, we owe it to the world to show that “Democracy Works”
We need to work together to show the world that we are back and that we are back for good. This reaffirmation means the world not only to women in America, but women around the world. The civil liberties of women have long been held in suspension, depending upon the ideologies of men in power.
This is the moment, in history, to make a pivot for a future, where such a dependency is relegated to a time in history, that may be never repeated.
This tradition, this democracy, this will of the people, the opportunity to take this moment and make it our own. It is entirely ours as American women. The time has come for us to own our future and never let anyone else determine the quality of life that we can lead. It starts here.
Meera Kaul is a Silicon Valley-based author and contributor with an interest in writing about political systems, economic and legal frameworks, foreign relations, policies, and ideologies. 26+ years of experience in executing ventures across three continents. She is a Thomas Jefferson School of Law and Stanford GSB Alum.