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Congressman Hoyer Delivers Remarks at 11th Annual Women’s Equality Day Luncheon

  WALDORF MD – Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5) hosted the 11thAnnual Women's Equality Day Luncheon today joining women from around the Fifth District to celebrate Women’s Equality Day which was last week. At the event Congressman Hoyer introduced the keynote speaker Rebecca Pearce Executive Director of the Maryland Health Connection. Below are his opening remarks as prepared for delivery:   “I always look forward to this luncheon – not only because I am constantly inspired by women who are breaking boundaries and leading by example but because it is an opportunity to bring some incredible women accomplished in the field of public service to speak here.   “In a few moments we’ll be hearing from our keynote speaker but first let me speak briefly about why we are here.   “Ninety-three years ago American women finally won a hard-fought battle to gain equal access to the ballot box. Even after a movement that took over seventy years – from Seneca Falls to the suffragist marches after the first World War – even after all that time and effort the nineteenth amendment was ratified by a just a single vote in the Tennessee legislature.   “The equal right of every woman to participate in our democracy was never inevitable.  It had to be achieved through struggle by challenging the conventional wisdom and by making the moral case that half of our nation could no longer be silenced.   “And even after 1920 not all women could exercise the right to vote – for African-American women in much of this country it would be another forty-five years before the voting rights act made that possible.    “Just as it took a movement of millions to achieve votes for women it will take the strength and determination of millions united to achieve the struggle for women’s full equality in the workplace in our military and in receiving equal pay for equal work.   “And it will take our energy and our determined will to defend access to affordable health care and to ensure that women can make their own health care decisions.   “Women and men who believed in the inclusive message of our founding documents stood up and raised their voices for the vote.  Now we must continue to raise our own voices and stand together once more to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to secure the victory of the Affordable Care Act and to shatter every remaining ceiling – glass or otherwise.   “Today even though I have the honor of serving in Congress alongside 78 women in the House and 20 women in the Senate we still have a long way to go to ensure that women’s voices are heard loudly and clearly in the halls of government.    “Even though some of the world’s leading economies are led by women – including Germany Brazil and South Korea – women are still underrepresented in corporate boardrooms.   “Even though women are putting their lives on the line in combat zones returning from war with the scars of battle the scourge of sexual harassment continues to demand our attention and action.   “And even though more women are now the breadwinners for their families many still earn less than men for performing the same job.   “Women’s Equality Day is not just about where we have come. It is about where we must go.   “Our keynote speaker today is a woman who is working tirelessly to ensure that we are headed in the right direction.   “With Maryland’s new health benefit exchange set to open for enrollment in October and offer plans that will provide coverage starting in January opportunities for more women and their families to access affordable health care will grow.   “As Executive Director of the exchange Rebecca Pearce is working tirelessly to educate Marylanders about the range of options available and how to enroll in a plan that will cost less and provide better coverage. She is responsible for the creation and deployment of a network of health benefit ‘navigators’ throughout our state.   “Before her appointment in 2011 Becca was Director of Benefits Administration at Kaiser Permanente and a product developer for Carefirst Blue Cross Blue Shield.  She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.B.A from the University of Maryland College Park. Please join me in welcoming Becca Pearce.”   ###       Equal Pay