House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi issued a call this afternoon for the increased participation of women in politics, policy, business, and the military as a way improving the national dialogue and enhancing individual rights.
“When I became speaker, they said, ‘You made history.’ Now we have to make progress,” Pelosi, who was speaker of the House from 2007 to 2011, told the Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center. Under questioning by Pat Mitchell, president of the Paley Center for Media, the California Democrat added: “Many ills, one cure—the increased participation of women in leadership and the decision-making.”
Pelosi’s comments—during a panel titled The New Threat to Women’s Rights—come at a moment when Republican elected officials and presidential candidates have questioned the necessity of widely available contraception, and have attempted through legislation to remove coverage from health insurance mandated by President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The issue came to a head in recent weeks with House Republicans excluding a female witness from an all-male hearing on the topic, the emergence of Georgetown Law School student Sandra Fluke as a spokesperson for contraceptive rights, and the incendiary insults of Fluke by right-wing radio jock Rush Limbaugh, which has resulted in a wave of advertisers abandoning the talk-show host.
Neither Pelosi nor Mitchell mentioned Limbaugh by name. Mitchell referred to “certain radio commentators” and Pelosi chimed in, “Who shall remain nameless and hopefully advertise-less,” getting applause from the packed house in the David Koch Theatre.
Noting that House and Senate Republicans have overplayed their hand, Pelosi urged, “We need to take the opportunity to make the changes necessary so that nobody has to fight this fight again.”
Pelosi also called for “a return to civility” in political discourse, touted the ability of women to do any job in the military, and urged that the influence of big money be downgraded in political campaigns. She exhorted women to run for office, though she pointed out, “It’s not for the faint of heart.”