Today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi celebrated the 90th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in the United States, with women small business owners, elected officials and community leaders. Speaker Pelosi shared the podium with Andrea Shorter of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women, San Francisco Fire Chief JoAnne Hayes-White, District Attorney Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D --San Jose). Speaker Pelosi issued the following statement:
"Today, we celebrate a great victory in the cause of equality. And we honor the courageous suffragettes who altered the course of history and ushered in an era of progress for all Americans.
"Their story is an essential part of the American story. For while others told them to wait their turn, they refused to listen. They refused to be treated as second-class citizens, to be relegated to the sidelines of American history. Instead, these women fought, struggled, and sacrificed for a better life for generations of women and girls yet to come; for a fundamental right in our democracy: the right to vote. And 90 years ago this week, their dream was realized.
"Today, women are small business owners, entrepreneurs, breadwinners for their families. For the first time, we comprise half of the workforce. For the sake of women -- and all Americans -- we must stay focused on our top priorities: jobs, jobs, jobs.
"We recognize that these jobs are created by small business -- often women-owned small business. Today, women-owned firms have an economic impact of $3 trillion annually that translates into the creation and/or maintenance of more than 23 million jobs - 16 percent of all U.S. jobs. And by 2018, women small business owners will create more than 5 million new jobs.
"The House has repeatedly passed legislation to increase lending to small business, including leveraging billions in loans for small businesses through a lending fund for community banks. Last year, the House passed the 'Job Creation through Entrepreneurship Act', which marks the first major overhaul in a decade of the Small Business Administration's entrepreneurial development programs. This legislation improves and expands the Women's Business Centers Program by increasing counseling and training facilities for women entrepreneurs, particularly targeting women entrepreneurs in underserved areas. Unfortunately, the Senate has not acted on it yet.
"Ninety years after the 19th amendment, our journey for equality goes on. Today, we stand on the shoulders of giants. Through their work, doors of opportunity were open. And it is our responsibility to walk through them and to chart a better course for the next generation.
"Together, we celebrate the right to vote. Together, we will never stop fighting for a brighter future for every American."