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Congresswoman Lee Participates in the Commission on Status of Women

Congresswoman Barbara Lee

In her role as the US Representative of the United States to the United Nations, Congresswoman Barbara Lee attended meetings at the United Nations surrounding the 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women.In addition to several events, Congresswoman Lee joined a panel sponsored by the Permanent missions of Latvia and Poland to discuss women, the economy, health, and political participation.An excerpt from her remarks is below:
“Finally, as it relates to political participation, let me just say—it has been less than 100 years since the first woman was elected to the U.S. Congress.

In fact, our last election, in 2013, was hailed as a “historic” year, with more women elected to congressional seats than ever.

Yet, women in our own country continue to struggle for representation and equality in politics.  Shamefully, the US ranks 79th in the word in terms of women representation.

Of 535 seats in the United States Congress, 101 are held by women.  That is less than 20% even though women compose just over 50% of the U.S. population.

We know that we’ve made real gains, but the truth is that we are not close to achieving the parity we need.  Underrepresentation is even more pronounced for women of color, with them composing less than 6% of Congress.

My own personal passion stems in large part from my remarkable mentor, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, who was the first African American women elected to Congress.

I know personally, and from my work recruiting and supporting candidates, the very daunting challenges and obstacles confronting women, and especially women of color, who seek public office.

Because we can and must learn from our experiences and each do our part to increase representation of women in every public office in this land.  From being a mentor, to joining a leadership program as a mentee, nominating women for appointments or financially supporting our women candidates and of proven training programs that support them, because we know, as the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says, “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds!”

But that doesn’t apply only in the United States. As Hillary Clinton said last year at the Clinton Global Initiative in Chicago, “When women participate in politics, the effects ripple out across society.” We have seen, throughout the world, the positive impact and success that female policymakers and heads of state have had in their countries – from Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia to Angela Merkel in Germany.

Issues of healthcare, childcare, education, and pay equity are traditionally referred to as “women’s issues.  It is of the utmost importance that we frame these matters as issues that affect all people – men and women.

It is even more important that men – our fathers, brothers, spouses, and friends – become our allies and advocates.

The success of women is truly central and integral to the success of every country.”

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