After months of collecting signatures, spreading the word and fighting for a cause they believe in, the hard work of three young women from New Jersey has finally paid off. Today it was announced that the moderators for this year's presidential and vice-presidential debates will be evenly divided between male and female journalists, marking the first time in 20 years that a woman has been selected as a moderator.
Sixteen-year-olds Emma Axelrod, Elena Tsemberis and Sammi Siegel from Montclair, New Jersey, have been rallying for the cause since they started a Change.org petition when they learned in civics class that it has been two decades since a female journalist has moderated the presidential debates. Their petition gathered over 122,000 out of 150,000 signatures, and even though it fell short of its goal, Washington took notice.
The Commission on Presidential Debates announced this morning that Jim Lehrer of PBS, Bob Schieffer of CBS News, Candy Crowley of CNN and Martha Raddatz of ABC News will act as this year's moderators.
Crowley will moderate the October 16 presidential debate -- becoming the first woman to do so since Carole Simpson in 1992 -- and Raddatz is slated to moderate the vice-presidential debate on October 11.
The girls explained that they were shocked when they found out that women had been left out of the presidential debates for so long.
"Women and men will never be truly equal in our country until they’re one and the same in positions of power and both visible in politics," Axelrod, Siegel and Tsemberis wrote in the petition's description. "There is no reason why a woman shouldn’t have a chance to show what she’s capable of by moderating debates in the upcoming election."
Largely thanks to their efforts, young girls across the country will have the opportunity to see women leading the political conversation in the 2012 presidential election.
Are you inspired by the girls' victory? Will you be tuning in to the presidential elections this fall? Tell us in the comments below or tweet @HuffPostTeen!