Looking Back: The Impact of Geraldine Ferraro

I first heard of the passing of Geraldine Ferraro by reading President Obama’s comments, “Geraldine will forever be remembered as a trailblazer who broke down barriers for women and Americans of all backgrounds.” Furthermore, President Obama emphasized how his daughters, Sasha and Malia, will grow up in a more equal society because of Ferraro’s contributions. Born after Ferraro’s campaign, I oftentimes forget how important her contributions are to our nation’s history.

On July 12, 1984, Ferraro was named the Vice Presidential nominee for Democratic Presidential nominee Walter Mondale candidacy. She was the first female Vice Presidential candidate for a major political party. Upon her nomination, she said, “If we can do this, we can do anything.” Ferraro viewed her candidacy as a milestone in the women’s rights and equality movement: she strongly supported the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment), abortion rights, and the advancement of women to high political office.

Unfortunately, 1984 did not put a woman in the second highest office. Still, it was a significant victory for women. Just 64 years after being given the right to vote, Ferraro put a major crack in the glass ceiling for women in politics. She laid the groundwork for the candidacy of Hillary Clinton for President in 2008 and even the nomination of Sarah Palin as Vice President on the GOP ticket. Her greatest impact was this: Ferraro made women less of a novelty in politics and because of her, fewer ask “can a woman do the job?”

A woman has not yet served in the White House or as Vice President, but Ferraro gives me hope. I was born after Ferraro’s historic nomination and never had the opportunity to vote for her, meet her, or work on her campaign like so many have. However, Geraldine Ferraro is an icon to me: she was tough and extremely smart; she took risks and broke barriers for all American women.