Pelosi Remarks at the White House Summit on the United State of Women
“Good afternoon, everyone. I accept your kind reception on behalf of the House Democratic Caucus, which is over 50 percent women, minorities and LGBT community. Thank you Valerie Jarrett, for your kind introduction but more importantly for your extraordinary leadership in the Obama Administration. Thank you and Tina [Tchen] for bringing us all together.
“Thanks to President Obama for his extraordinary leadership in convening this summit and for the President’s and Michelle Obama’s whole-hearted dedication to advancing women’s opportunities – all that demonstrated in the President’s decision to make the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, passed by the Democratic Congress, the very first bill President Obama signed into law as President of the United States. And thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership in passing the Affordable Care Act – ensuring that no longer will being woman a be a ‘preexisting medical condition’.
“What an immense joy it is to be with so many extraordinary women, all of you – from all across America – gathered for the United State of Women Summit. That state from Seneca Falls to this Summit today, we know we stand on the shoulders of giants. We have all gathered here, because we understand this indisputable truth about our country: when women succeed, America succeeds!
“We can do that again. When women succeed, America succeeds!
“It’s a fact. But it’s also the title of House Democrats’ economic agenda for women and working families. It’s an agenda built on four pillars of work, family balance, which you all have addressed in this summit: affordable, quality child care; fair and equal pay; paid family leave; and strengthened retirement security for women. We join together in the fight for this agenda to unleash the full power of women in America.
“As we examine the state of women, we know this: nothing is more wholesome to our country than the increased leadership of women – in every field and every sector of our society.
“I appreciate today’s focus on innovation and President Obama’s focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, which echoes the House Democratic Innovation Agenda. Innovation can and must open doors for many more women.
“Information technology has put us at the doorstep of tremendous advances in national security, clean energy, transportation, agriculture and food, housing and smart cities, education, diversity and governance.
“In terms of governance and politics, I guarantee you this. I promise you, I assure you and guarantee you this: if we increase the level of civility and reduce the role of money in politics, we will elect more women, more people of color, more LGBT and more young people – and America will be the better because of it.
“When I came to Congress in 1987, there were only 23 women in the House – 12 Democrats, 11 Republicans, out of 435. When there were just few of us, our male colleagues thought, ‘That’s nice.’ When our numbers grew, they began to get worried. I always thought that the American people were more ready for a woman President than my House colleagues were for a woman Speaker.
“And here’s why. When I ran for a leadership – and tell me if you’ve shared an experience like this. When I ran for a leadership position that had been held by men for over 200 years – the men said, ‘Who said she could run?’
“When they saw the support I had among my women colleagues, they told us, ‘Oh, well why don’t you make a list of the things you want done, and we’ll do them for you.’
“Really? Poor babies.
“But soon they were ready to make an historic vote for a woman Speaker and for many women Chairs of committees. We made history and we made progress. Now, we’re on the verge of a monumental breakthrough for women in our country: the possibility of a woman holding the highest office in the land…
“The most powerful office in the world.
“We know that Hillary Clinton will engage in a dignified campaign of ideas, vision about the future – a campaign worthy of the Office of President and worthy of the American people. Hopefully the other side will.
“But let’s remember this: we must remember that electing a woman president, or electing a woman to any office, is not about one woman’s achievement, but what it means to other women.
“For us to see how Madam President will ensure our national security – Madam President – will ensure our national security; grow our economy; strengthen and empower our families. It will resound in the dreams of every young girl in every corner of America.
“It’s been 100 years since the first woman was elected to Congress – four years before women had the right to vote in America, a woman was elected to Congress. Today, there are 108 women members – the most in the history of our Democracy. But of course, we want more!
“It is now my privilege to invite some of those women, those women members of Congress to the stage. Please, my colleagues, join us on the stage.
“As they come forward, on their behalf, to all the women gathered for this summit, we say: let us draw inspiration from each other, and draw inspiration from how far we have come together.
“We’re in the middle of votes so we’re taking turns coming over here. But you see how proud we are.
“Let us all rejoice in a future with new possibilities for all of America’s daughters.
“Let us all thank President Obama for bringing us together today, and for taking us forward – knowing as these women say every day, that when women succeed, America Succeeds!
“God bless you, and God Bless America. Thank you all very much.”