Did you hear that? That's the sound of a revolution happening on Capitol Hill, on main street, in state legislatures, and in city halls.
First nearly five million women marched in the U.S. Now they are seizing their power. Though Hillary Clinton barely missed cracking "that highest, hardest glass ceiling" in 2016, she's paved the way for more women than ever to get involved in politics.
"They'll tell you you're too loud, that you need to wait your turn and ask the right people for permission. Do it anyway." said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who could become the youngest person ever elected to Congress this November. "If women and gender-expanding people want to run for office we can't knock on anybody's doors; we have to build our own house."
In our new series, "Cleaning the House," we're telling the story of this national reckoning in politics through four women who are on the front lines of change.
From the visionary who sparked a movement for women candidates in the 1980s to the helicopter pilot who completed three tours in Afghanistan and is now ready to serve our country in Congress, these are the leaders we've been waiting for.
P.S. You can help women candidates sweep on Election Day by voting on Nov. 6!
Ellen Malcolm, Founder of EMILY's List
Her family was Republican, she went Democrat. She was groomed to be a secretary; she became a political leader. She saw the old boys' club say no to funding women candidates; she founded EMILY's List, the largest national resource for women in politics that has raised more than $500 million since it started in 1985.
"You have to say, 'no, we are not going to live like they did in 'Mad Men,'" Malcolm tells MAKERS. "We are going to live today as empowered, free, equal participants in our country."
MJ Hegar, Air Force Veteran, Politician, Author
Combat veteran MJ Hegar has fiercely fought for the rights of American women abroad in Afghanistan and at home in the Pentagon—and won. Overseas, the former Air National Guard pilot earned a Purple Heart after saving the lives of countless soldiers on the battlefield. At home, she combated sexism in the armed forces by helping repeal the Combat Exclusion Policy, opening up 200,000 positions for women in combat. "Until we change the culture of women being treated inferior and women being looked at as less than, then that culture will continue," Hegar tells MAKERS.
Now, Hegar hopes to take up arms on a new battleground: Congress. The veteran is taking on a 15-year male incumbent for a congressional seat in Texas, but she has a growing fanbase nationwide: Her campaign video "Doors," which details her incredible life story, went viral with more than 2.9 million views and counting.
Rashida Tlaib, Politician and Attorney
If you question Rashida Tlaib's integrity, she answers with an act of defiance. When her family was targeted for being Muslim after 9/11, Tlaib doubled down on her activism for underrepresented communities in Detroit, home to the largest Arab-American population in the country. When asked for her birth certificate by the chairman of the Michigan Legislature, she announced her run for the U.S. House of Representatives. Now Tlaib is poised to become one of the first Muslim women ever elected to Congress.
"I'm not going to be forced out just because I'm Muslim. I'm going to be showing people that if you work hard enough, if you love your community enough, you can do whatever the heck you want."
Amy McGrath, Congressional Candidate in Kentucky
When Amy McGrath was a young girl, a congressman told her that women shouldn't be in combat. Fast-forward 200 flight hours and 89 missions and McGrath has helped change the perception of women serving in the military. Now she's bringing that fighting spirit to the polls and running for Kentucky's 6th congressional district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"We have all these former military women running for Congress [because] we see what's happening in our government. We're basically saying, 'I fought for my country and I'm not going to stand for that,'" says McGrath. "I don't want to be there just to fill a seat. I want to make a difference."
To learn more about the trailblazing leaders in politics, watch the original MAKERS documentary "Women in Politics" narrated by Alfre Woodard here.