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'Lifelong dream for me': What Washington delegation's women see in Clinton nomination

Hillary Clinton may not be the first woman to run for president. Victoria Woodhull did that back in 1872, on the Equal Rights Party ticket with Frederick Douglass.

But Hillary Clinton is the first to be nominated by a major political party. And that’s a big deal for a number of women from Washington state in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention.

“It’s a lifelong kind of dream for me that we should see a woman as the leader of our larger community in the United States,” said Myra Gamburg, 84, an alternate delegate from Lake Forest Park.

Washington Sen. Patty Murray also takes Clinton’s nomination personally.

“You know when I came into the U.S. Senate there in 1992, there had been only two women senators before,” she said. “The year I was elected we became six women senators.”

Currently, there are still just 20 women in the Senate.

But if Clinton is elected what difference will that really make?

"What I know is when women are in the room we bring the issues forward that families expect us to talk about,” Murray said. “Whether it’s education or health care or child care or equal pay. But these are issues that people are talking about. And what we will know after this election is that we’ve got somebody in the White House absolutely focused on that.” 

[asset-images[{"caption": "Clinton delegate Pamela Eakes marched for the Equal Rights Amendment back in the 1970s. ", "fid": "128331", "style": "placed_wide", "uri": "public://201607/20160728-pamela-eakes-dh.JPG", "attribution": "Credit KUOW PHOTO/DAVID HYDE"}]]That experience and that message resonates with Clinton delegate Pamela Eakes of Seattle.

“Forty-four years ago I marched for the Equal Rights Amendment. We were making 41 cents on the dollar,” Eakes said. “Now it’s 79 cents. That’s over 43, 44 years.”

Eakes had to march in disguise. At the time she was an account executive at a major ad firm – and she felt being known as a feminist could put her career in jeopardy.

Now she sees Clinton's nomination as another historic moment.

“It’s going to make a huge difference in our national leadership,” she said. “I expect that we’ll have more women in public service and in government because they can now. 

"We only have 20 percent of women in Congress, and we’re 52 percent of the population.”

Eakes said millennial women who know their feminist history also get why this nomination is such a big deal.  

“Those who haven’t studied it, that have just been bequeathed a lot of things that others have worked so hard and even died to get the vote for women, I’m not sure they fully grasp the responsibility,” she said.

[asset-images[{"caption": "Jessica Beckett is a Bernie Sanders delegate.", "fid": "128330", "style": "placed_wide", "uri": "public://201607/20160728-jessica-becket-DH.JPG", "attribution": "Credit KUOW PHOTO/DAVID HYDE"}]]Jessica Beckett of North Bend is here as a Bernie Sanders delegate. She said she gets it.

She definitely felt the love out on the floor when Clinton was nominated.

“I could really, really sense the pride and happiness,” she said. “It means so much to so many women to see this. Hillary wasn’t my first choice in candidates, but I know how much she means to so many people. And it was special to witness that.”

But some younger women here see the feminist moment through a different lens. Varisha Kahn is a University of Washington student and a Sanders delegate. She has an expansive view of feminism.

“As an American Muslim woman, it’s important for me to see progress in the direction of being inclusive toward women, towards Muslims, and people of all races and ethnicities and colors,” Khan said.

And Hillary Clinton’s nomination to be president of the United States?

“I think this is a step in a positive direction.”

Year started with KUOW: 2004