This is part of the #WomenWhoLead campaign! During Women’s History Month LiveYourDream.org is featuring powerful women who are making a difference in their fields, inspiring the next generation, and changing the world for the better. These fierce feminist icons advocate for gender equality, challenge sexism, fight the patriarchy, and empower women everywhere to live their dreams.
Who is Nancy Pelosi?
Nancy Pelosi is considered to be one of the most powerful women in Washington. Her political career began in 1976, when she worked for the presidential campaign of California Governor Jerry Brown. By 1981, she was the Democratic Party chair for the state of California, recruiting candidates and raising money. In 1987, she was elected to Congress, and rose the ranks, becoming the House Democratic whip in 2001, and then House Minority Leader in 2002. Her ability to break through gender barriers paid off – in 2006, when Democrats took majority of the House, she became the first female Speaker of the House, breaking the “marble ceiling”. Just recently, she was elected to this position for a second time.
Nancy Pelosi has […] proven that women can show just as much strength, grit, and determination as men
Pelosi is notoriously hard working. Those who know her well attest to her seemingly endless reserves of energy – not needing downtime in cross-country treks during the 2006 midterms, working throughout the night if need be, and even working on Christmas Eve when a famous dissident was released by the Chinese government. Even more fascinating is that she displays such strong work ethic without drinking any coffee (she prefers hot water with lemon). And even in her mid-seventies, she has shown no signs of slowing down.
Her Achievements in Congress
Nancy Pelosi has accomplished a lot during her political career: she argued and won increased government funding for AIDS research in the late 1980s when this topic was unpopular nationally, she was one of the architects of the 1994 assault weapons-ban, and she has raised more money than any other congressional Democrat.
But what makes her a particularly respected figure is what she has accomplished as Speaker of the House. Her ability to whip votes has made her integral in the passing of several pieces of major legislation. While Speaker, she was crucial in the passing of the Affordable Care Act, which provides millions of people with access to affordable healthcare who otherwise wouldn’t have it. In addition, she helped pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which seeks to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work, and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which allowed LGBTQ individuals to serve openly in the military without consequence.
“You know how to get it done. Be your authentic self. Be yourself. Know your power”
Why We Admire Her
Nancy Pelosi has successfully navigated the world of politics – a world dominated by men – and proven that women can show just as much strength, grit, and determination as men when it comes to pushing through legislation that they feel are beneficial for the country. And she has done it with her head held high, in the face of attacks – on her credibility, her character, and her ability to get things done – from both Democrats and Republicans alike.
Despite the criticism, she has persevered. She has persisted. And she wants other women to see that they should not be pushed around, and should not run away from a fight. When asked about her advice to women transcending politics, she said: “You know how to get it done. Be your authentic self. Be yourself. Know your power”.
Speaker Pelosi has shown that women are changemakers too, and because of her accomplishments, women are that much closer to breaking the highest, hardest ceiling in politics.
Grace Malloy is a 28-year-old living in the Greater Boston area, with interests in writing, public service, and women’s rights. While working as a software support specialist, she received her Masters Degree in Public Administration – a challenging yet fulfilling experience. She aspires to use her strengths and passions to make a positive impact on her community.