The following was submitted by Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi:
When I was sworn in as the first woman Speaker of the House in January, my 8-year-old granddaughter Madeleine said
she hoped because of my step forward, more women would also be able to
have jobs like mine. With those words, Madeleine spoke a simple but
powerful truth: Without the pioneering women who have blazed the trail
before us, we would not have come nearly as far as we have today.
I proudly assumed the role of Speaker, it was with a nod to both the
past and to the future. It was in honor of those pioneering
suffragettes and women whose tenacity and sacrifice allowed me to
become the first woman Speaker. And it was in honor of our children,
who represent our hope for the future and for change. At the time, I
said that we have made history, and now we must make progress.
Women’s Equality Day on Sunday, we remembered those who worked so hard
to gain women the right to vote. Throughout history, women have been
the ones who have worked to keep our communities strong, keep our
families healthy and safe, and put a stop to the violence and
destruction of war. It is work that must continue until equality is not
just a goal, but a reality.
We must work to protect the basic
right to health care, which unfortunately too many women and their
children lack. The House recently passed the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act,
to reauthorize the State Children’s Insurance Program and extend
critically needed health care coverage to 6 million children. Yet at a
time when 8.7 million children lack health coverage, the President has
threatened to veto this critical legislation for low-income women and
We must work to ensure that our children and
grandchildren grow up in a healthy and safe environment that allows
them to reach their full potential. The New Direction Congress has
taken crucial steps that protect our children and our planet with an energy package that promotes energy independence and combats global warming.
must work to ensure the right to equal pay for equal work is a
fundamental value, yet women still earn 77 cents for every dollar men
make, and the Supreme Court ruled to deny a woman redress after the
fact in a case of pay discrimination. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed
by the House last month will ensure that women will have all resources
available, especially the protections of civil rights law, to ensure
their right to fair pay.
There is still significant work to be
done to achieve true equality for women here and around the world. In
Congress, equality in representation of elected officials is still a
goal to which we aspire, as women make up only 16 percent of Congress.
We must remain vigilant in the fight for equality. Those who came
before us would expect no less. We are honoring our history and their
sacrifice by continuing to support our sisters in working for true
equality. It is an honor for me to be part of this tradition that is
paving the way for young women of generations to come.
Speaker of the House