by Imran Siddiquee
Michelle Obama’s moving words last night were the latest in a series of unforgettable speeches from women this convention season. In fact, along with Condoleeza Rice and Ann Romney’s speeches last week, it’s more likely we’ll remember what the women have said at these conventions thus far than what the men have (with the possible exception of Clint Eastwood’s comedy routine).
Like Day 1 of the Republican National Convention, last night’s Democratic National Convention opening was female-focused, with 28 women speaking or entertaining on stage (out of 58 total speakers). And just like at the RNC (where 16 women appeared on Day 1), it was the spouse’s speech which stole the show. Both Ann Romney and Michelle Obama had the difficult task of promoting their husband’s ability to lead the country, without getting too specific about their politics. In both cases, in different ways, they succeeded.
In as much as these women humanized and gave insight into their husbands’ personalities, they also reminded us just how uncommon it is to see a woman speaking powerfully on a national stage. And in the case of Rice and Obama, how very rare it is to see a woman of color speaking to us about issues that are of vital importance to the well being of society.
CBS reports that Michelle wrote the speech herself and worked on it for a month.
— Bob Cohn (@1bobcohn) September 5, 2012
Both parties continue to lack actual female leadership (only 20% of the Democrats in Congress are women) but it seems that at the conventions themselves – despite a concerted effort by the Republican party – women are playing a much bigger role at the DNC than they did at the RNC. Following a big opening night for Republican women, each night of the RNC featured significantly fewer women than the first. Less than 5 women spoke on stage for the second day (including entertainers), and on the final night, before Mitt Romney spoke rather eloquently about the right for women to be in politics, only 6 women said anything.
The Democrats have at least 21 scheduled female speakers or entertainers for their second night of the convention. Which means the total number of women at the DNC in its first two days will surpass the total number at the entire RNC.
While increased representation in Congress is the goal, seeing more and more women speaking at the political conventions is a start. And in both statistics, the Democrats are leading.
Imran is the Social Media and Communications Manager at MissRepresentation.org. Follow him on Twitter @imransiddiquee