Pelosi Remarks at Dedication of the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument

Apr 12, 2016
Press Release

Contact: Drew Hammill/Evangeline George, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today at the dedication of the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:   

“Thank you very much, Senator [Barbara] Mikulski, for your very kind adjectives but more importantly, for your exhortation for us to recognize the challenges that have been faced by women and the progress that still needs to be made.  It’s an honor to be here with you, Senator Mikulski, it’s an honor to be with Secretary Jewell, [Congresswoman] Eleanor Holmes Norton, in whose district we are, and as she said, we respect monuments and tributes to the past in Washington, D.C., to be inspired by Valerie Jarrett and her comments and to do so at a time when we will be hearing from the President of the United States on this very important subject. 

“My thanks to Helen Chamberlin – congratulations to Helen Chamberlin, to Page [Harrington], to all of you at the previously known as the Sewall-Belmont House, soon to have a new name – Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument.  Isn’t that exciting?

[Applause]

“This is a monument for so much, but I think it is a monument to courage.  Imagine the courage of the women that – first of all, in Seneca Falls when they said, ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.  Such is now the necessity of women to demand equal station to which they are entitled.’  A very long time ago, women had the courage to come forward with that statement.  Here, we are reminded of the great torch of women’s leadership passed from Seneca Falls to Sewell-Belmont, down to the present day. 

“Much has been said about Alice Paul and what a remarkable person and a leader she was – but I want to also mention that in the march of 1913, that – guess who else participated in the march?  The Deltas.  The Delta [Sigma Theta Sorority] was newly formed at Howard University. 

[Applause]

“Helen Keller was in the march.  Ida B. Wells was in the march.  Quite a remarkable thing.  Can you think of a more beautiful piece of jewelry than this with a chain to the fence on it and all that that implies?  A chain to the fence – so that we no longer will be chained to old ideas about opportunity for women. 

“What a privilege it is always to stand in this house, this place that was a home to so much strategy, vision and progress for American women over the decades.  Here we stand in these hallowed halls amidst the memory of generations of, again, courageous, trailblazing American women, organizers, activists and leaders.  And here you all are today. 

“As we make progress for our daughters and granddaughters – I’m so proud my daughter Christine Pelosi is here – so as we make progress for our daughters and our granddaughters, so too must we preserve history that informs and inspires our efforts today.  I’m proud of the success of our efforts to honor more women in the U.S. Capitol – they stand as sentinels in the halls of Congress.  So, anyone who visits sees the recognition of women.  Of course, we want more, but we happily put in Rosa Parks, Helen Keller, Sojourner Truth, the suffragettes – we want many more, but this has made a difference. 

“And now, thanks to President Obama [and] his leadership, the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument will serve as an enduring tribute to the visionary women behind the National Woman’s Party. 

“Today is Equal Pay Day.  We rededicate ourselves to all of the progress that has been made in our time.  Going into the subject for the moment – let me acknowledge, especially, all of my colleagues who are here but our godmother of this effort, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro.  She has been the champion.

[Applause]

“Equal pay for equal work – it’s a fundamental principal of justice for women in our democracy. 

“See, I’m used to coming a little bit before the President.  The helicopter is my hook.  I say that all over the country.  Just as I really get into it – Marine One.  But Rosa, I’m still going to talk some more about you.  Tell the President I’m talking about Rosa, and then, I’m talking about him some.

[Laughter]

“Together, Democrats in Congress and President Obama made supporting equal pay our first order of business in 2009 when the President signed – it’s his very first bill that he signed as President of United States – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

“I pay tribute to [Congressman] George Miller, our Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee at the time, for his leadership and he’s the one who said: ‘What are we going to call this bill? Who better to name it for than the courageous Lilly Ledbetter.’

“But just as Alice Paul knew that women could not let up in the fight for progress after the victory of suffrage; we cannot let up in the fight for equality today.  Congress must pass Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro and Senator Mikulski’s Paycheck Fairness Act to strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963…

[Applause]

“And to ensure that every woman receives the respect of equal pay for equal work.  Every single House Democrat has cosponsored the bill, I’m proud to say.  If we are to unlock the full potential of our economy and our society, we must unleash the full power of America’s women.  That’s why Paycheck Fairness is a key pillar of House Democrats’ economic agenda – again, under the leadership of Rosa DeLauro.  Our title of our women’s economic agenda is not only the title, it is a statement of fact: When Women Succeed, America Succeeds.  Let’s do that again.  When Women Succeed, America Succeeds.  Our agenda stands on four pillars: fair pay for women, paid leave for working families, affordable, high-quality child care and strengthened retirement security.

“Now, I know New York was mentioned and I congratulate New York for raising the minimum wage to 15 dollars, but California came first.

[Laughter]

“So when I’m in New York, I praise them for being part of all of this.  But we’re very proud of California. 

“With these pillars, we will make progress for women and grow the middle class that is the backbone of our democracy.  Now, it’s really interesting that as we come together on all of this, we praise the incredible women athletes on the World Champion U.S. Women’s Soccer Team.  Aren’t they courageous?

[Applause]

“And as Senator Mikulski mentioned the girls in Nigeria, this week under the leadership of Frederica Wilson in the House, we will come together to observe the passage of time that they have been stolen.  It’s so very sad.  So it’s about unity, it’s about solidarity, it’s about coming together.  Again, as we celebrate the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument and look forward to the realization of the National Women’s History Museum, thank you Eleanor Holmes Norton for your leadership on that very important initiative.  Let us remember that these are all monuments not just to women, but to women’s courage. 

“Let us take this Equal Pay Day to renew our determination to make history and to make progress in the continued march for women’s equality in our country.  And when the President comes, let us thank him for making these issues – again, the first bill that he signed.  We had a number of bills we had passed, right Rosa?  We had passed S-CHIP for children’s health – we were ready for a Democratic president when the President came in – but the first bill that he chose to sign making this a priority. 

“Because it’s not just about the survival of some women at the grassroots level.  When we talk about the athletes, we have to talk about every single woman and the struggles that they are in in our country.  So, it wasn’t just about the survival but it was about the success that it could lead to for them and it was transformative for our nation.  And we’re so very grateful to our great president, President Obama, Mrs. Obama and Valerie [Jarrett] – the whole team at the White House – for making this a priority.  It always has been for the women in the Congress.  And again, I want to acknowledge the extraordinary leadership of my colleagues here: Senator Mikulski in the Senate, Rosa DeLauro in the House for taking the lead and having the courage to fight this fight.  Because, When Women Succeed, America Succeeds.  Thank you all very much.”

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