March 1 marks the official start of Women’s History Month, and all month long, FOX 13 Seattle is going to highlight the women in Washington state doing big things and making history.
Washington State Senator Patty Murray began her political career in 1988, and ran for senate in 1992 – where she has been serving ever since. Sen. Murray joined Good Day Seattle Wednesday morning to talk about her journey.
LIZ: You arrived in the Senate as one of six female senators in 1992. Talk about that experience, and some of the changes you have seen during that time for women in Congress.
"There have been a lot of changes. I think having women on committees, being in conversations, not being the only women in the room and talking about real life issues to the senate and what we need to be doing for our families and communities across the country has been a great change."
"When I first came in, I often was the only woman in the room. I often felt like, ‘if I don’t bring this up, nobody else will’ – which was true. There have been a lot of physical changes too. When I came into the senate, there wasn’t even a women’s bathroom next to the senate floor, because there hadn’t been any women – or enough to have one."
LIZ: When you look back at yourself embarking on your political journey in 1988, what advice do you think you would give your younger self?
"I think I would say what I say to people today; to have confidence in yourself, to listen to people, listen to your friends and neighbors, constituents and communities that you represent, because then you can be a strong voice for them, and be confident in what you’re talking about.
"I would say what I’ve always told people, don’t ever let anyone tell you, ‘you can’t make a difference’."
"If you’re feeling strongly about an issue, or you feel that a voice needs to be heard, or an issue needs to be resolved, know that there are a lot of other people that feel the same way. It is your job as an elected representative to bring their voices to the places where you can make a difference."
LIZ: You are a mom, you are a senator in a very high-profile position [that carries] a lot of pressure too; As a woman, what is it like to feel like you’re doing it all? I feel like a lot of us look at women like that and go, ‘I don’t know if I can do all of this at once?’ How do you balance all of this, and make it look good?
"Again, have confidence in yourself. I will say, ‘I can do this, because I have a great family who supports me’ – even though they may not agree with me all the time on the issues. But they are there for me. I have a great community around me, and I take the time to really work on the issues."
"You can’t come into this job and just say, ‘I’m here’. You have to really understand what you’re working on. Take the time to really go through it. Do your homework. Then you [will] have the confidence to come and fight for what you believe in."
LIZ: When it comes to fighting for what you believe in – we talk about Women’s History Month; where does the fight for women go now? There are a lot of issues facing women right now. You have really been vocal on the Roe v. Wade issue that just happened in the Supreme Court. You’ve got the pay gap between genders for men and women. What happens next?
"I think that’s a really important question. I have two young granddaughters, and I want to make sure the world is open to them. And that means removing the barriers, so that they can be whoever they want to be, and be able to accomplish their dreams and their goals here in the United States of America."
"So making sure they can make their own choices about their reproductive health is an important part of that. Making sure that they have the opportunities, the ability to be able to earn a degree, making sure their communities are safe, making sure that we are doing whatever we can in the United States Senate to build an economy, and build a country where girls can grow up and compete and be a really important part of our country and where we go."
LIZ: This year, you became the first woman President Pro Tempore in the Senate. Talk a little about that role, and that history-making moment.
"Well, it should’ve come a long time ago, but it came about and I am [the] person, because of seniority in the senate. That has a lot to do with who assumes this role. It is a really important historic moment, because for the first time, a woman is now president pro tempore."
"Small fact: When I became President Pro Tempore, they had to change all the forms in the President Pro Tempore’s Office from ‘him’ to ‘her’. It should’ve happened a long time ago."
"Basically, I oversee the senate. I work with my senate colleagues and leadership. There’s a number of things I have to do; sign bills and do everything like that as a leader in the senate. And I welcome this opportunity to bring a woman’s voice to this position not only to do the job that I’m doing, but to show young girls in this country that if they believe in themselves, work hard and dream, they can become whoever they want to be."
LIZ: Maybe there is a young girl watching, and they want to be in your seat someday. What else would you say to them? Because I feel like those dreams can feel really big and a little out of reach. What would you say?
"I’d say, ‘dream big’. You never know what’s going to happen in your life; what turns will occur, what will happen in historic moments, what will influence you and the decisions you make. But dream big, because that is what we need young girls, and young boys, to do today to make sure our country is strong.
"I would say, ‘never give up’. No day is perfect. No time is always right. You lose sometimes, you win sometimes, but keep your eye focused on what you want to do, and you’ll get there."