By Carolyn Lochhead
Insisting that the conference table set with flowers was incomplete without bowls of San Francisco’s Ghirardelli chocolates, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi laid out her new “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds: An Economic Agenda for Women and Families” Thursday to a room of female reporters, promising that she would rather have Republicans “join us in this rather than having it as a political weapon.”
The campaign was rolled out publicly on the East Front of the Capitol, coinciding with the 165th anniversary of the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, the first in the United States to address the rights of women. When women finally won suffrage in 1920, Pelosi said many at the time described the milestone as women being “given” the right to vote. “That’s never happened,” Pelosi said. “Women have always fought for” their rights.
Pelosi adamantly focused on economic issues, despite the high-profile fight over abortion in Texas and military sexual assaults occupying Washington. The three-pronged platform focuses on pay, work-family balance and child care.
Pelosi said her motto has always been, “Don’t agonize, organize.”
“We have a problem with equal pay, we have a problem about child care, we have a problem about not being able to take sick leave,” she said, emphasizing that these were the concerns raised in visits with constituents in Democratic districts all over the country. She said it is fundamentally about raising womens’ incomes and economic status, which then would benefit their children and the country.
A reporter suggested this might be part of a mid-term strategy to win back the Speakership, given Republicans’ poor performance with female voters in the last election. Pelosi said the issues are longstanding and central to U.S. economic success given the large role of women in the labor force.
The campaign stressed that women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn, even after the first year of college and throughout their lives, and that women account for two-thirds of minimum wage workers.