This weeks Illustrated Women in History was submitted by Maria Karambatsakis for the Illustrated Women in History 2017 exhibition at Swindon Central Library.
In a time where women were still fighting for their place in the world, especially in politics, Geraldine Ferraro emerged and ran as a running mate with Walter Mondale in 1984. This made her the first woman to run for vice president, which was a big deal, considering how women owning their own credit card and being legally allowed abortions were still fresh concepts. She gave women hope that things would progress in a world that was still dealing with taboos revolving around said women.
Beginning her career as a school teacher, Geraldine Ferraro worked towards becoming an attorney where she eventually created the Special Victims Bureau, obviously pre-Law & Order: SVU. Just like you’d imagine, she investigated rape, child abuse, elderly abuse, and domestic abuse. Working on cases so harsh led her to take a break from law where she won a Democrat seat in the US House of Representatives. Ms. Ferraro worked on improving inner city issues and women’s rights, urging the passing of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Working non-stop as a Democrat in public service, and eventually a member of Congress, she was picked as a vice president nominee for a major political party. Having a woman run for a high power such as vice president, it was no shocker she was scrutinised and criticised when her background was picked apart as well as her husband’s. It was questioned how her first congressional campaign was funded, and questions arose when her husband refused to release his tax returns. Just as other leaders who dealt with similar backlash, the Ferraro’s reputations were slightly tainted. In politics, it’s pretty common for reputations to go though a wave such as the Ferraro’s experienced. Unfortunately, Reagan was re-elected, making the 1984 election historic in many different ways.
That didn’t stop Ms. Ferraro from continuing to fight for what she believed. She continued law, and then became appointed as the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission during the Clinton Administration. Remaining in politics, she co-hosted a CNN show called Crossfire, later chairing a public affairs practice. In 2008, Ms. Ferraro worked as a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton during her campaign.
Sadly, 2011 brought Ms. Ferraro’s passing due to blood cancer. She was diagnosed in 1998, but didn’t publicly disclose of her illness until 2001. She became a speaker for the disease, and an honorary board member of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. Even with her illness, she continued politics, and was able to succeed having the thick New York skin she had up until the day she passed. She was a bad ass boss lady we should all admire.