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Women’s Voices in the New Year

January 2, 2022

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Traditionally, the new year is viewed as a time of rebirth.  We’ve taken stock of our losses and are ready to begin our lives anew – with vim, vigor, and vitality.  And hope.

Except that, after enduring two years of death and disruption caused by the coronavirus, a new, extremely contagious variant called Omicron has come calling.

The good news is that nearly 75 percent of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and more than 62 percent are fully vaccinated (though only about one-third of these have been boosted).  The bad news is that a swath of Americans adamantly refuses to be vaccinated or wear masks, paving the way for wily – and deadly — variants to keep popping up.

But the pandemic will end eventually, in some fashion.  All pandemics do.  In the meantime, I’m celebrating the early days of 2022 by re-reading a quote from the Austrian poet and novelist Rainer Maria Rilke: “And now we welcome a new year,” he wrote.  “Full of things that have never been.”

Two other poets also penned their thoughts about welcoming the new year, which are useful for women already in leadership positions and for women who aspire to be leaders.  “Some people feel confusion and uncertainty and do nothing,” wrote Bulgarian poet Alex Dimitrov.  “Don’t do nothing.” 

The American poet T.S. Eliot also offered thoughtful words to greet the new year.  “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language,” Eliot wrote.  “And next year’s words await another voice.”

Women are that other voice.

 Our voices – and our votes — will be crucial in 2022 if we want to elect more women to public office and encourage more women to serve on local and statewide boards and commissions.

In early January, the S.C. General Assembly will vote on the proposed   redistricting map for the state’s seven Congressional districts.  It’s important to telephone, text, or send post cards to your state representatives to communicate your views on the proposed redistricting plan.

This fall, there will be mid-term elections for all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and for 34 of 100 seats in the U.S. Senate, including the seat now held by Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina.

All 124 seats in the S.C. House will also be up for grabs.

Henry McMaster, South Carolina’s governor, is running for re-election in November.  There will also be elections for the statewide offices of lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, superintendent of education, treasurer, and comptroller, as well as for six of the 16 state solicitors.  In addition, there will be numerous municipal and county elections.

 In 2021, 84 women in South Carolina – 60 percent of those who ran for public office — were elected or re-elected.  There will be many more opportunities for women to make their voices heard in 2022.

Jan Collins 2021-circle-crop

Jan Collins is a Columbia, South Carolina-based journalist, editor, and author. A former Nieman Fellow at Harvard and former Congressional Fellow in Washington, D. C., she is the coauthor of Next Steps: A Practical Guide to Planning for the Best Half of Your Life (Quill Driver Books, 2009).

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