“Our success as a nation really depends on the success of women, and this is something that has to be unleashed in a more important way than it has,” Pelosi told a roundtable for reporters Thursday afternoon.
The campaign aims to make women in the economy an issue that becomes “too hot to handle,” so Congress must take action, similar to the popular pressure to pass immigration reform, according to Pelosi. House Democratic women want to raise women’s voices over a specific set of policies, like paycheck fairness, paid leave and child care funding, many of which have languished in Congress for years. At a time when progress on the gender gap has stalled, women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. Raising the minimum wage to $10 is one key factor to addressing this gap, because two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. Affordable child care is another one of the “missing links” that is preventing the economy from reaching its full potential, according to Pelosi.
A record number of women are the breadwinners of their families, tripling in number since 1960, but public policy has not kept up.
“This is more urgent now because we have a disparity of income that is growing and growing and the gap keeps expanding, and women are at the low end of that,” she said, noting the country’s “growth is stunted because of public policy that is not as family-friendly as it ought to be.” At the same time, sequestration is devastating programs for early childhood education and care, adding to low-income mothers’ burden.
Pelosi stressed that women’s health and preventing sexual harassment, while important, are separate from their strictly economic focus here. So far in the 113th Congress, Republicans have chosen to focus on restricting women’s health and embarking on their 38th Obamacare repeal vote, while one GOP congresswoman insisted women do not need equal pay after all.