Hillary Clinton clinches Democratic nomination: Another landmark achievement for US women

Hillary Clinton has become the first woman to secure the presidential nomination of a major party in the US and is now a step closer to becoming its first female president.
Hillary Clinton has become the first woman to secure the presidential nomination of a major party in the US and is now a step closer to becoming its first female president.PHOTO: REUTERS

By clinching the Democratic Party nomination, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is breathing rarefied air.

She becomes the first woman to secure the presidential nomination of a major party in the United States and is now a step closer to becoming its first female president.

Women in the US have reached the pinnacle of nearly every other office but the Oval Office has remained elusive.

On two previous occasions, women have been selected as vice-presidential running mates: Ms Geraldine Ferraro was the Democratic vice-presidential pick in 1984 and Ms Sarah Palin was the Republican one in 2008. Both were part of losing campaigns.

 

In 2014, Dr Janet Yellen became the first female chair of the US Federal Reserve Board.

Mrs Clinton herself had previously achieved a number of landmarks for American women. When she was elected to the US Senate in 2000, it was the first time a former First Lady had ever been elected to national office.

During her 2008 presidential run, Mrs Clinton also became the first woman to win a US presidential primary contest.

When she became secretary of state, she was only the third woman to hold that position. The first was Dr Madeleine Albright, who was appointed secretary of state in 1997 by former president Bill Clinton, and the second was Dr Condoleezza Rice, who served between 2005 and 2009.

Despite the milestones, the US record on women in government does not always stack up that well internationally.

According to the Pew Research Centre, at least 63 countries have had a female head of government at some point in the 50 years up to 2014.

And the likes of India, Ireland and Bangladesh all had female leaders at the helm for over two decades.

Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka became the world's first female prime minister in 1960.

There are at least 18 female world leaders right now, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, South Korean President Park Geun Hye and Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen among the prominent examples.

Jeremy Au Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2016, with the headline 'Another landmark achievement for US women'. Print Edition | Subscribe