What would the election of the first female president actually mean for the United States?

As Barack Obama comes to the end of his time as president of the United States of America, so ends an eight-year, two-term journey which brought the country its first black president.

But as that particular chapter ends, a new one is very much in the offing: could Obama be succeeded by the first female president of the USA?

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton
(Andrew Harnik/AP)

Polls suggest that could well be the case, and while there hasn't been anything like the level of excitement that preceded Obama's election, a female president would be a huge statement.

The immediate significance would of course be that a woman would be in charge of the most powerful country in the world, succeeding 44 men, 43 of them white.

Were Clinton elected, she would find herself at the table with other female leaders such as UK Prime Minister Theresa May and German chancellor Angela Merkel. That's three of the world's most powerful countries all represented by women - whether or not you agree with their politics, that's progress.

More specifically perhaps, a first female POTUS would mean a changed, if not new focus on women's policy. A scan through both Clinton and Donald Trump's campaign websites shows a stark contrast in focus: Clinton has many specific policies directed towards female health, pay and reproductive policy; Trump does not.

Hillary Clinton
(Andrew Harnik/AP)

Here are some of the policies listed on her website:

"Defend access to reproductive health care. Hillary will work to ensure that all women have access to preventive care, affordable contraception, and safe and legal abortion."

"As senator from New York, Hillary championed access to emergency contraception and voted in favour of strengthening a woman's right to make her own health decisions."

"Work to close the pay gap."

"Increase the minimum wage. Women represent nearly two-thirds of all minimum-wage workers in America."

"Confront violence against women. One in five women in America is sexually assaulted while in college. Twenty-two percent of women experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime."

"Promote women's rights around the globe."

supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton
(Frank Franklin II/AP)

In another section Clinton vows to work against sexual assault, and end it. And that's really the crux of the matter as it stands: has a president ever been elected to office that has demonstrated a stronger commitment to women?

Furthermore, if America is to elect Clinton, her presence as a woman would only be made more noticeable by her husband Bill, who we can perhaps presume would be the inaugural First Gentleman.

Social media has had its fun with suggestions for the former president's proposed title but his presence alone would be a great reminder of how far women's rights have come, playing the support role as his wife leads the country.

Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton
(Andrew Harnik/AP)

But maybe the most important element of a prospective Clinton presidency would be victory over Trump.

Clinton has long worked in politics - a former first lady, United States senator and secretary of state - and perhaps Obama put it best when he tweeted: "Nobody has ever been more prepared to be @POTUS".

In contrast, her Republican rival has been a businessman and a TV producer. His campaign has been blighted by the Trump Tapes, sexual harassment allegations and an unwillingness to release his tax returns.

But, as has been pointed out, Clinton's struggle to convince the public to vote for her rather than her rival may be indicative of a society in which some believe women have to work harder than their male colleagues in order to achieve.

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