Editor’s Note: Donna Zaccaro is a documentary filmmaker whose production company, Ferrodonna Features, produces films about women, women’s issues and social justice issues; and she serves as Board Chair for Eleanor’s Legacy, whose mission is to recruit, train and support pro-choice Democratic women for elected office in New York State. She directed and produced A More Perfect Union: U.S. v. Windsor and the critically acclaimed documentary about her mother, Geraldine Ferraro: Paving The Way about the political trailblazer who was the first woman Vice Presidential candidate on a major party ticket. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. View more opinion on CNN.

CNN  — 

Nearly 36 years ago, my mother, Geraldine Ferraro, was the first woman to run on a major party ticket for Vice President. The reaction to her nomination was seismic: emotional, electric, and joyous. Although the ticket didn’t win, my mother re-energized Walter Mondale’s presidential campaign and changed Americans’ perceptions and understanding of what was possible for women.

In her speech accepting the Democratic nomination, she said: “By choosing a woman to run for our nation’s second-highest office, you sent a powerful signal to all Americans. There are no doors we cannot unlock. We will place no limits on achievement. If we can do this, we can do anything.”

When Joe Biden, this year’s presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, promised to name a woman as his running mate, he tapped into the energy that buoyed the Mondale-Ferraro ticket, now shared by millions of voters across the US. Many of us stood behind Hillary Clinton in two presidential elections, as she proved again that a woman could be a credible contender for national office. My mother showed that a female president was possible. Clinton showed that it’s inevitable.

This year, six credible women contended to lead the Democratic ticket. As each of their campaigns ended, the reality of our first female president again felt further out of reach.

Biden’s campaign has reignited our hope to one day see a woman in the White House. Critics have complained that he has unnecessarily “limited the pool” of potential candidates. As Geraldine Ferraro’s daughter, I say that choosing a woman should not be seen as limiting the field. Rather, it levels it.

Biden’s choice is even more important now as our nation struggles to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and confronts the racial injustice that has afflicted this country for 400 years. There is work to do to bridge our divides, bring communities together and find real solutions with empathy and care. Every day we are seeing women in executive offices do this work in our cities and states, and in countries across the globe. Now is the time to have a woman in our nation’s second-highest office.

No doubt there are many exceptionally qualified men whom Biden could have chosen. But by vowing to bring a woman on as a second in command, he is acknowledging a systemic divide and validating the notion that there is no cogent reason that a woman has not held this high an office yet.

And yet, Biden’s choice does pose a risk: Will his bold decision win him voters – namely the female voters who make up more than half of the republic? Or will he lose critical votes driven by the misogyny, even among white women, that was apparent during Hillary Clinton’s fierce battle for the presidency in 2016?

Vice presidential candidates have not been known to directly or significantly affect how people vote for a given ticket. But we do know that women are the core of the Democratic Party and a likely engine to victory. In 2018, Democratic women helped to flip the United States House with a record-breaking 23-point gender gap.

Ninety percent of Black woman voters voted Democratic.

According to several studies, including one discussed in an article published by American Politics Research in 2010, my mother “affected about 5.3% of the entire electorate in 1984 (the highest of any vice presidential candidate).” Perhaps our understanding of how vice presidential candidates can or can’t influence votes is based on the historically male experience of politics.

Many vice presidential candidates have brought qualities to the ticket that complement and highlight the nominee’s own – and contrast with the opponents. My mother’s historic candidacy demonstrated that a woman can also generate her own energy and support while giving her ticket a whole new look and character.

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    I hope Biden will choose a woman who has broad support in battleground states, a capacity to heal and unify and a record of experience working with communities of color, marginalized communities and law enforcement. As Biden himself has said, the vice presidential choice will also be someone who can immediately step into the role of president if needed.

    For Biden to stake his candidacy on this kind of wager says a lot about who he is and how he would govern: With an administration based on actions, not lip service, taken solely because they are the right things to do, right now.