I am pleased over the reelection of President Obama. And while I am still holding out hope that the next election, or the one after that, will place the first woman in the Oval Office, the recent race has brought many, many victories for women.
Victory! There are now a record number of women in the Senate, including the fearless, plain-spoken and inspiring Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren.
Triumph! Another is Missouri's Claire McCaskill who, with seemingly effortless might, erased the idiocy of her opponent's comments about "legitimate rape."
History! Tammy Baldwin made history Tuesday night, twice, by becoming the first openly gay politician, and the first Wisconsin woman, elected to the U.S. Senate.
Future greatness! And I celebrate the first all-female delegation: senators, House members, and a governor in New Hampshire.
Signed, sealed, delivered, sister.
But here's what is actually most astonishing: According to pollsters, women's votes per se did not win the election for President Obama. The Washington Post online exit-poll interactive reveals that single women voted largely for Obama, but married women did not. What actually cemented Obama's win was his broader traction among young people, African Americans and Latinos, including unmarried woman in these categories.
This says to me that women are not voting as an isolated bloc. We are diverse, and this diversity -- as in, divide and conquer -- is the opposite of divisiveness. Diversity is the definition of America's success and greatness as a nation, and as an idea.
This means that as women, in our diversity, we are more powerful than we may have realized or expected, because we represent so many interest-bases within the voting population. Young, unmarried women seeking their first jobs out of college, African American and Latina women seeking greater social justice, and women in general demanding control over our own reproductive freedoms, for example.
This aligns with an epiphany I've had recently, after my company's nonprofit women's initiative, FITE, surpassed its target goal. The initiative was launched in January 2011 with the objective of funding 25,000 microloans to women entrepreneurs, worldwide. In the process of spreading the word about this goal to thousands of women everywhere, whether speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative or the United Nations each year, or simply blogging and tweeting, of course I used the word "empowerment," as if power were a magical something yet to be granted to women.
But here's the Aha! moment: Women have always been powerful. We are already powerful. And we don't need to be empowered, but merely connected with opportunity. The 25,000 women who received microloans via FITE are an illustration of this. The cash-value of the loans they receive is small, and they are literally using that money to change the world, starting with their own families, villages, townships and nations.
The subtler gender demographics of the recent election further prove this point. Our ability to direct the national conversation is growing steadily, not just because of our gender, but because we are people who influence and shape every aspect of national life. To quote a marvelous woman that I met earlier this year at the Clinton Global Initiative, activist/author Leymah Gbowee, "Mighty be our powers."
I still want a woman in the White House. Because I want balance and gender equality. That's all.
This is where we stand as women, right now. The mythic ruby slippers of power have been on our feet all along -- and now we embark together on what will be the most breathtaking part of our collective national journey.