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Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to run on a major party ticket as a vice-presidential nominee, died Saturday at the age of 75 after a long battle with blood cancer.
NBC New York reports that Ferraro, who shared the unsuccessful 1984 Democratic ticket with Walter Mondale, died at Massachusetts General Hospital from complications of multiple myeloma.
A New York native, Ferraro worked as a New York City schoolteacher and attorney before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978. She served three terms in Congress before being selected by Mondale for the vice presidential slot.
"Her legislative achievements included creating a flextime program for public employees, which has become the basis of such programs in the private sector," reports NBC New York. "She also successfully sponsored the Women's Economic Equality Act, which ended pension discrimination against women, provided job options for displaced homemakers, and enabled homemakers to open IRAs."
In later years, Ferraro worked for international human rights, serving as the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission appointed by President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1996. She served as head of the U.S. delegation to the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993 and headed the delegation to China for the Fifth World Conference on Women.
Ferraro entered the fray of the 2008 presidential election with criticism of Barack Obama as inexperienced that some interpreted as racist, and she later criticized the media for sexist treatment of Sarah Palin, the first woman Republican vice-presidential nominee, comparing it to her own experience.
In a statement reported by NBC New York, the Ferraro family said, "Geraldine Anne Ferraro Zaccaro was widely known as a leader, a fighter for justice, and a tireless advocate for those without a voice. To us, she was a wife, mother, grandmother and aunt, a woman devoted to and deeply loved by her family. Her courage and generosity of spirit throughout her life waging battles big and small, public and personal, will never be forgotten and will be sorely missed."