CLINTON, MD – Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5) hosted the 12th Annual Women's Equality Day Luncheon today, joining women from around the Fifth District to recognize Women’s Equality Day. Shuanise Washington, President and CEO of the Congressional Black Caucus, served as the keynote speaker. Below are Congressman Hoyer's remarks as prepared for delivery:
“I’m so glad to host today’s luncheon.
“This is one of my favorite events each year – not only because it marks a special anniversary in the history of our democracy but because it fills me with hope for the future of equality in America.
“As a father and grandfather, there is nothing I want more than to see my daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughter pursue their dreams without obstacle.
“As we mark the 94th anniversary of the nineteenth amendment’s ratification, we do so with the recognition that the right to vote on its own was never enough to guarantee equality for women.
“While many women could cast ballots in 1920, African-American women throughout the south could not do so until the civil rights victories of the 1960’s.
“While women have always been an integral part of our workforce and economy, millions still earn less than a man earns for the same work.
“And even though the Supreme Court recognized in 1973 that women have the right to access the full range of health care options, we continue to see women’s health care undermined today.
“It takes more than the right to vote to secure women’s rights – it takes a continued effort by a broad coalition of women and men working together to advance the cause of equality for all Americans.
“That’s why I have been fighting in Congress for legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act to ensure equal pay for equal work, pushing to raise the federal minimum wage, and standing up for women’s access to make their own health care choices.
“It’s why I’m proud to serve alongside more women in the House and Senate than ever before – and why I’ve been working to recruit and support outstanding women candidates for public office.
“It’s why I’ve pushed to include legislation in the Make It In America jobs plan that will expand opportunities for women and other underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts –or STEAM- fields.
“And it’s why I’m encouraged to be among all of you who care deeply about equality and understand that when more women are able to find good jobs that pay well, to vote for leaders who share their values, and to make the important decisions that affect their own lives, our nation as a whole will be stronger for it.
“These are important issues that I discussed recently with women from across the Fifth District in June when I hosted a women’s economic forum in conjunction with my Women’s Network Advisory Committee.
“We cannot have real economic progress in America without hearing from women who are working hard to make it in America every day – Congress needs that perspective.
“I hope today’s luncheon will contribute to this important effort.
“I’m honored to host this luncheon, and, in addition to our keynote speaker, we are fortunate to have with us the next first lady of Maryland, Karmen Walker-Brown and the distinguished chair of our party, Yvette Lewis.
“Please join me in welcoming Chairwoman Lewis to the podium.”
“We are fortunate today to be joined by a keynote speaker who understands very well the relationship between equality and opportunity – and who continues to serve as an example of leadership for women concerned about our nation’s future.
“Shaunise Washington serves as President and CEO of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, overseeing a host of legislative, educational, and public policy initiatives.
“The foundation has its origins in the Congressional Black Caucus, a group of leaders in Congress that continues to play a crucial role in shaping some of the most important legislation of our time relating to civil rights, equal opportunity, and economic advancement.
“Shaunise has been deeply involved with the foundation for more than fifteen years, and before that she held senior roles in some of America’s leading corporations, including Altria and Philip Morris.
“Her public and private sector experiences have seen her rise to the top through hard work, a sharp intellect, and skillful leadership.
“Shaunise is not only an accomplished woman – she is an extraordinarily talented American who continues to inspire me and so many others through her activism and advocacy on behalf of those seeking equality and opportunity.
“Please join me in welcoming Shaunise Washington.”
“Thank you, Shaunise. We are fortunate to have you with us today to share your insights, to inspire us with the work you are doing through the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and to speak about your experiences as a woman in a position of private and public sector leadership.
“In the past ninety-four years since the nineteenth amendment was ratified – and in the past 166 years since the Seneca Falls Convention that launched the Women’s Rights Movement – there has been so much achieved in the fight for equality.
“But each victory has brought the realization that more work lies ahead.
“Whether equal pay for equal work, access to health care, greater economic opportunity, better work-life balance, expanded opportunities to serve in the military, or more women elected to public office – the movement for equality continues and calls us to action.
“I will continue to fight for these causes in Congress, and I look forward to working with you to make progress in the months and years ahead. Thank you.”