Nancy Pelosi ushers in a new unprecedentedly diverse Congressional class

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The new Congress is already breaking barriers. The freshman class is the most racially diverse in history-- and there are more women serving than ever before.

So far 2019 has been a year of firsts for women in Congress.

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San Francisco's Nancy Pelosi was sworn in as Speaker of the House again after becoming the first female to hold the office back in 2007. Thursday she not only regained the gavel but served as an example to the more than 100 women who now make up the most diverse Congress in history.



"I am particularly proud to be the woman Speak of the House of this Congress, which marks the 100 years of women winning the right to vote," beamed Pelosi during her speech on Thursday.

One person who was by Pelosi's side 12 years ago, was San Francisco native Heidi Kuhn. As founder of the humanitarian nonprofit Roots of Peace, her organization works closely with the government to eliminate landmines in developing countries and to replace them with farmland.

Kuhn believes women in leadership roles hold the key to peace.

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"Let's use our voice and unify! We are mothers and bearers of the seeds of life and this is a beautiful opportunity to bring balance to American and our world," beams Kuhn from Washington, as she is clad in a traditional Afghan jacket.

Among the women sworn in Thursday-- Ilhan Ohman of Minnesota who tweeted an image of her and her father from 23 years ago, fresh from a refugee camp in Kenya. Now she swears in as the first Somali-American in Congress.



The first Palestinian-American to be elected to Congress, Rashina Talib wore a traditional tunic for her swearing-in and posted on her Instagram page, "Thank you for believing in me."



Deb Haaland shared an image of her in a traditional outfit as she becomes one of two Native American women to be elected to Congress. Her caption? So "girls of color know they can be anything they want to be."

It's a sentiment shared by Kuhn who looks ahead to the future and hopes for brighter things for the next generation.

"Imaging where we can all be as proud Americans, a vocal community 12 years from now. I hope to be here with my granddaughter one day, just planting the seeds to peace on earth." Smiles Kuhn.

In addition to additional diversity for women in Congress, there was also a presence from the LGBT community. This includes a bi-sexual congresswoman from California who also happens to be Native American along with openly gay members from Minnesota and New Hampshire.

Despite increasing diversity on religious backgrounds, the majority of Congress is still Christian and the number of Republican women drops from 23 to 13.

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