Kamala Harris was sworn in as the United States’ first woman, first Indian and Black American Vice President. She is now the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in American government.
Harris has shattered the barrier that has kept women from the highest rungs of power in the US for more than 200 years.
Three women tried unsuccessfully to break the glass ceiling to reach the top positions of the US, one as president and two as vice presidents and had remained tantalizingly unsuccessful before Harris finally managing to smash it.
Hillary Clinton ran for president in 2016 but was defeated by Donald Trump on the basis of the electoral college votes although she got more popular votes than him.
Geraldine Ferraro was the Democrat Party vice presidential candidate in 1984 running with Walter Mondale, the presidential candidate.
They ran against a very popular president, Ronald Reagan, and his Vice President George H.W. Bush, who defeated them in a landslide.
Ferraro, who started as a teacher and became a lawyer before being elected to the House of Representatives, died in 2011.
She ran into controversies because the media and politicians could not at that time see a woman having a life independent of her husband. She had separated her finances from that of her husband John Zaccaro, a real estate developer, and filed separate taxes papers.
Ferraro was criticized for this and demands were made for his tax and business documents.
Republican Sara Palin, considered a political lightweight, ran for vice president in 2008 with the presidential candidate John McCain. They lost to Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
Palin was the governor of Alaska state with no experience in national politics, or international affairs and her campaign were punctuated by gaffes.
There have been other women running for president and vice president, but they were from smaller parties with no chance of election.
Notedly, Harris was not the only vice presidential candidate of Indian origin in the 2020 election.
Comparatively, here in New Zealand, we are both, extremely lucky and fortuitous as a nation, and extremely progressive as a society, to have three female Head of States so far.
New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world to have had three female heads of government, and one of only three countries to have had a female head of government directly succeed another.
The first female prime minister was Jenny Shipley of the National Party, who replaced Jim Bolger in late 1997; Shipley was succeeded by Helen Clark in 1999.
Jacinda Ardern, the second female leader of the Labour Party after Clark, became prime minister in 2017.
This clearly is reflective of the progressive and socially cohesive society that we have managed to create and preserve here in New Zealand.
Many observers believe that it was this newly realized USP which is also widely acclaimed internationally in recent years, that have enhanced the overall attractiveness of New Zealand as one of the most sought-after global destination of international migration.
The United States, in recent years especially under Trump presidency and more particularly after the shocking attempt of an “insurrection” at Capitol Hill a few weeks ago at the behest of a sitting President, have lost sheen of its global reputation of being the leader of the free world.
Biden-Harris leadership will have a lot on their table to restore the “soul of the nation,” not only by uniting an extremely divided American nation but also resurrecting the US’ global reputation.
Indeed, Kamala Harris will be playing an incredibly influential role in this important journey.
Her multi-cultural identity - representing the aspirations of those communities which have been pushed to the periphery, if not completely marginalized in recent years, will act as a beacon of hope for those, who are genuinely invested in the success of the US as a nation and as a leader of the free world.