Speaker Nancy Pelosi received today the 2010 Alice Award from the National Woman's Party and the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum. The Alice Award, named after Alice Paul, founder of the historic National Woman's Party and a leader in the fight for women's equality, honors a distinguished woman who has made an outstanding contribution in breaking barriers and setting new precedents for women. Below are the Speaker's remarks as prepared for delivery.
"The women's activist Crystal Eastman once said this about Alice Paul: "[It is] rare to find in one human being this passion for service and sacrifice combined first with the shrewd calculating mind of a born political leader, and second with the ruthless driving force, sure judgment and phenomenal grasp of detail that characterize a great entrepreneur.'
"Alice Paul was a force for equality -- which is both our nation's heritage and our hope.
"With gratitude for her vision and her determination, and with thanks to all of you for ensuring her legacy lives on, it is indeed a distinct honor to receive the Alice Award.
"I would like to thank today: National Woman's Party President Dianne Lipsey; the Co-Chairs of today's lunch, Lucy Calautti and Peggy Cifrino; and Cokie Roberts, today's Master of Ceremonies.
"The Sewall Belmont House was witness to some of the most significant moments of the women's suffrage movement. We saw it in the movie, "Iron Jawed Angels,' helping give birth to women's suffrage. It allows us to learn from, and honor, our history.
"Today, the Sewall Belmont House is in the midst of major improvements that will make it more accessible and allow it continue to preserve and share the stories of the suffrage movement. We all look forward to it reopening early next year.
"Last month, we celebrated the 90th anniversary of the right of women to vote, and we honor the brave suffragettes, including Alice Paul, who changed the course of history.
"Today, all of us carry on their legacy. That means raising our voices on behalf of all Americans, fostering the next generation of leadership by America's women, and always using the right to vote.
"It means continuing the fight in Congress, where we work day in and day out to improve the lives of women and families. I'm proud that the first bill President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, restoring protection against pay discrimination.
"For women, health insurance reform puts an end to higher rates based on gender, includes maternity care as an essential service, and no longer is being a woman a pre-existing medical condition.
"And we will continue to work on our number one priority: creating jobs. Women are small business owners, entrepreneurs, and breadwinners for their families. For the first time, women comprise half of the workforce.
"Despite all the progress we've made, there is work still to be done. Nine decades after women became full partners at the ballot box, we still make up just 17 percent of both the House and Senate. We must keep fighting to elect more committed, passionate women leaders to public office.
"For women at all income levels to succeed in their jobs, we must address the availability of quality, affordable child care. Together, let us support the motto: "families earning, children learning.' After going to battle for equal rights in all facets of life, women still earn 77 cents for every dollar men make. It is past time for the Senate to take up the Paycheck Fairness Act -- already passed by the House -- to right this wrong.
"Ninety years after the 19th amendment, our journey for equality goes on. Today, we stand on the shoulders of giants -- giants such as Alice Paul.
"Thank you for the honor of this award today. Together, we celebrate the right of women to vote. Together, let us continue to encourage women to take their seats at the table of power."