Pasadena Now: Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi Visits, Continues “Fight for Women”


By Rachel Young

Bringing a nation wide effort to continue the fight for women’s rights to Los Angeles, Pasadena Congresswoman Judy Chu was joined by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and other women leaders at California State University Los Angeles to discuss a new economic agenda that will increase job equality for women.

Congresswoman Pelosi, the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House in U.S. history, has been traveling the nation since last summer to promote an economic agenda called When Women Succeed, America Succeeds.

After hearing women’s stories around the nation, Pelosi focused the agenda on the three most relevant issues facing working women today—fair compensation, healthy work and family balance, and affordable child care.

“What women told us is that their pay, it isn’t a living wage. We have answers. We’re going to get that job done,” Pelosi said. “We want to shorten the distance between what they think is inconceivable and we think is inevitable to get the job done.”

Women business leaders, educators, community leaders, and stay-at-home moms attended the event to hear and promote this economic agenda.

On average, American women make only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, amounting to a yearly gap of $11,084 between full-time men and women.  African American women on average earn only 64 cents and Latinas on average earn only 55 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men. Nearly two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women

The biggest push from Pelosi is to raise minimum wage, which is at a historic low. Congresswoman Chu said the House is working to raise minimum wage to $10.10.

“She challenged us as Congress to do something about an issue that has kept women at second-class citizenship for far too long,” Chu said. “It is time for the U.S. to join the other 145 countries who offer paid sick days. How can we be one of only four countries that don’t offer paid leave to new mothers?”

On top of those rates, California is leading the nation in poverty rates with 1 in 4 California women living below the poverty level and 1 in 6 children living in poverty or deep poverty.

State Senator Holly Mitchell said she wants to see California eliminate the maximum family grant and increase the state earned income tax credit for women with large families. She also said she continually asks the governor to invest in child development and expanded childcare slots with early education.

“When California women succeed, the California economy flourishes. When California women succeed, California’s children will thrive. And that’s what must happen next, we must help our friends, neighbors, daughters, sisters understand,” Calif. State Senator Holly Mitchell said.

Magali Sanchez-Hall is living the reality of the necessity for economic equality for women.

“I am a so-called success story in California. As a single parent, survivor of domestic violence, immigrant who was undocumented, grew up hear always hearing the extreme limitations and beginning work at the age of 13 to help my mother…” Sanchez-Hall began.

To escape domestic violence she left everything behind in New York—her home, car, clothes, friends, and dog to come live in a garage in California where she and her mom slept like “sardines in a can.” After a year she received help including a scholarship to pursue her astronomy dream at the University of Texas. But the university time was cut short when she discovered she was an undocumented immigrant.

“Everyone told me all I was good for was to be a mother and do the cleaning around the house… But them my dream became a reality when I was accepted to USC,” Sanchez-Hall said.

Sanchez-Hall is now a Masters of Public Policy candidate at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. She wants to become a lawyer and still enjoys the rigors of being a full time mom.

“My classmates ask me, how do you do it, we can hardly keep up on the readings and we don’t have children,” Sanchez-Hall said. “I’m a woman.”

Pelosi, telling the story of a school bus driver who sees moms everyday crying as they drop off their sick child because they cannot stay home from work, said, “We see at every level women at work on public policy, but the driving force, the power of it all, are the personal stories. Magali is an example of why we have to do this campaign.”

Pelosi continued, “Nothing brings more money to the federal government than the education of the American people and that starts with early childhood education.”

Kicking off the campaign to coincide with the event that happened 165 years ago in Seneca Falls that began the fight for women’s rights, Pelosi asked the women in the room to imagine the courage of those women to leave home and declare that all men and women are created equal.

“Women were starved, women were relentless, women fought and women worked to get the right to vote in our country. A few decades later, women joined the workforce and were out of the home. Then higher education of women, women having a choice, women in profession. In all of that, what’s missing? Childcare.” Pelosi said.

As the mother of five and grandmother of nine, Pelosi said, “What bothered me then and what drives my engine now is that one in five children live in poverty. That is intolerable. We need to kick the door open and do something not incremental, but really transformative.”

Through paid sick leave, paycheck fairness, increased minimum wage, paid maternity leave, promotion of Early Head Start and increased access to affordable child care, the women at the event said that transformation could happen.

Pelosi has already had success with the Lily Ledbetter fair pay act, that was inspired after she met a woman named Lily Ledbetter who serviced her tires and received less pay than the men just because she was a woman.

With her recent induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame at Seneca Falls, where the fight for women’s rights began, Congress Woman Judy Chu said, Harriet Tubman, Margaret Sanger, Susan B. Anthony, and now Nancy Pelosi.”

“I just had to bring this event to Los Angeles. Los Angeles has such an active women’s community with committed activists. I knew all of you would want to be part of this historical movement,” Chu said.

Pelosi said that the best way to spread the message is to share your own stories of hardship as a woman through social media as well as holding public officials accountable to taking action.

Following the discussion, Congresswoman Chu hosted a Jobs Resource Fair with participants including California State University Los Angeles, Planned Parenthood of the San Gabriel Valley, Mothers’ Club, Foothill Workforce Investment Board, Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program, the American Association of University Women, and the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau.

An extension of this discussion comes to Pasadena in the form of a Women’s Business Summit hosted by Pasadena City College on Wednesday March 12 from 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. in the Creveling Lounge 1570 E Colorado Blvd in Pasadena. The forum will discuss modern methods for entrepreneurs.

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