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9 Grandmothers Tell PEOPLE What It Means to Them to Vote for the First Female Presidential Candidate

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Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier/AP

Grab the tissues.

We spoke with nine grandmothers about what voting for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, Nov. 8 means to them as citizens, mothers and women.

“I must tell you, I wouldn’t vote for a woman who wasn’t qualified just because she is a woman. When I vote for the first woman presidential candidate, she must be the most qualified to do the job. It is not a contest because they are male or female. I will feel confident Hillary can do the job and that a new victory for the intelligence and ability of women has been reached.” — Peg Kratofil, 83

“I think it would empower women. When I grew up, you were either a teacher or a secretary, maybe a nurse. You were very, very limited. Now, there are so many more women attorneys and so many more women doctors, and there’s so much more opportunity … It empowers women, that the sky’s the limit. Truly, your daughters, your mothers, your sisters your nieces, your granddaughters, your friends – it gives them a feeling that they too could possibly do this. In my family, unless you were in the hospital on your deathbed, you voted in every single election. Our mother always referred to the president as our darling president. I vote for everything I can vote for. I can’t understand people who will not vote, because if you can’t vote, how can you complain?” — Dorothy Schwartz, 80

“I feel great about it. You’re talking to someone who when I graduated from high school and wanted to go to college, my father said to me, ‘Shirley, I’m sorry. I can’t afford to send two children to college and it’s more important your brother goes.” I didn’t go to college. This is … really something. Look, I don’t blame my father. It was the time. But it’s just so wonderful that a woman will be the American president. And a woman has been president in many countries, and they’ve done well. So I’m hoping that Hillary will do well. I never thought I’d get to cast a vote like this.” — Shirley, 94

“I feel both proud and anxious. I’m proud that Hillary has persevered through so many challenging situations and awesome responsibilities, always done her homework, taken setbacks in stride and finally reached this point. As a woman of her generation, but not her talent, I am amazed by her stamina. It is like watching your racehorse coming down the home stretch. I’m anxious because I fear that the fight will continue after the election. She will be criticized and demeaned, perhaps impeached. Just as Obama has been stymied at every turn, she may be too.  Is this the cost of breaking through barriers? I dread what she will face, but if she is willing, I will do my best to support her.” — Kathleen, 64

“I grew up in a progressive, politically involved family. One of my first memories is watching the McCarthy hearings with my mom when she pointed out the bad guy, Joe McCarthy, and tried to explain to me what was going on. I also remember being at a JFK rally, with my ‘All the Way with JFK’ button. I was involved in the women’s movement starting in college and recall vividly the terror when friends had to figure out how to get (illegal) abortions. I chose a career in medicine, specifically primary care for women, because of an interest in social justice, women, reproductive rights and the right to health care. I just came home from casting my vote for Hillary and am excited and optimistic that she will win. I worked hard and long (canvassing, making calls, etc.) for Hillary because I think she is, as Obama and others have said, perhaps the most qualified person ever to run for this office. I believe as president she will continue to fight for women’s rights, human rights, health care for all and that she will devote her full energy to making the world a better place for my (and all other grandmothers’ and grandfathers’) children and grandchildren.” — Margaret Spear, 67

“I was so thrilled to vote for Hillary. She is the most qualified candidate — no one has ever had all of her qualifications, and her opposition is so ridiculous. I will be proud to have a woman as president. Hillary is a fighter and will do wonderful things for this country and be a great President.” — Pauline Landau, 89 (pictured below)

“When I was in high school, I wanted to go into business administration. The guidance counselor told me as a woman, I would probably get married, so should become a teacher instead. A few years later, I wanted to get a computer science degree. Once again, I was discouraged, as it wasn’t considered a career for women. I did it anyway. Times were changing; we no longer needed permission to try for a career that we knew we could love. My grandfather, who brought me up, had told me that I could become anything I wanted. The only dream career that he didn’t think was a good fit was my childish thought of performing a Catholic mass, while being a woman. That possibility still seems to need to wait for a much more liberal future. My uncle, in his 90s, still honestly believes that women took away men’s jobs, don’t deserve to get equal pay and that women are voting for Hillary just because she is a woman, etc. If Hillary gets voted in, my biggest fear is that an obstructionist Congress will block any good changes she wants to make, based on her being a woman. I am hopeful that lessons are being learned, but realistically, can see we have a longer way to go than we seemed to, due to what I have seen in this election. I admire her bravery, taking on this challenge, knowing it would be a battle all the way. Getting to vote for a female presidential candidate shows me that we have come a long way. It is so nice to see that women of my age and older were not all discouraged by the old way of thinking. It gives me hope, for the possibilities, for my granddaughters and future great-granddaughters. Imagine a time when they will be able to actively go for practically any career that they want. This election is a major step in that direction.” —  Paula, 64

“I never really thought about whether I’d live to see a woman as president of the United States, but I’m happy to see women running the western world with Angela Merkel in Germany, Theresa May in Great Britain and Hillary Clinton in the United States. Things are looking up!” — Kathryn, 85

“I am more excited than I expected. Gay marriage, the first black president, and the first woman president in only a few years? I never thought this would happen in my lifetime. I think highly of Hillary, notwithstanding some of her mistakes along the way. I think this stems from her not being a natural politician, which pleases me. She is more substance than sauce. I want a president who will do the job, not one who will entertain in tabloid-fashion. Someday I will share two stories with my twin granddaughters. One will be about how I became the first female president of my HS student council (1968), my own small moment of breaking the glass ceiling, after years of losing such competitions (Vote for a man, who wants Diane?). I will tell them my story so they can know it is personal as well as political, so they know it is also about them and their lineage. The second story is Hillary Clinton’s. The first to break any sort of glass ceiling takes it on the chin, as they say. Hillary is bruised, has held her head high, and mostly conducted herself with unbelievable grace through this brutal political season. She has been targeted unfairly for 30 years and still she has done the complex work of being a stellar ‘First Lady,’ a fine senator, and Secretary of State at a terrible time. This moment is not only for the granddaughters of those who vote for Hillary Clinton. It is for all of the daughters and granddaughters as well as young men who will grow up with a broader conception of who makes a leader. On Tuesday, I’m wearing my ‘Madame President’ nail polish and a pantsuit, proudly.” — Diane, 65