Washington, DC — Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid today released the following statement in celebration of Women’s History Month.
“Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate the women who have played a pivotal role in America’s history, and this March we pay special attention to “Builders of Communities and Dreams.” Women have always played a crucial role in building the great history of this country, and the women of my home state, Nevada, are no different.
“One who comes to mind is Sarah Winnemucca, an influential Native woman who we honored last year by making her the second of Nevada’s statues in Congress. Born to a Paiute chief’s family around 1844, Sarah was unusually driven to bridge the gulf between Native Americans and Caucasian settlers. Dedicated to helping her people, Sarah used her talents as an English translator, public speaker, negotiator, and educator to build a community between the Paiutes and Americans.
“Women’s History Month is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments and contributions of famous women like Sarah, but there are many untold stories of women just like her whose names we don’t know and whose lives have made America a place of strength, freedom, and hope. Their stories are echoed in the contributions that women across the country make every day, whether at home, in the community, in the workplace, or on the battlefield. More than just to paying them tribute, I am committed to honoring them by fighting for a more just, prosperous, and worthy nation.
“For all the mothers who struggle to provide a safe environment for their children and their families, we can do better to put America’s security first and protect the nation against the threats of both terrorism and natural disasters. We can also do more to put our families’ security first – we simply cannot ignore that women and children will not feel safe, period, if they are not safe in their homes. That’s why Democrats support the Violence Against Women Act, and why Democrats will resist President Bush’s latest budget proposals to slash federal funding for local law enforcement and first responders.
“For the women worried about the health and education of their families, we can do much better. We can do more to ensure that mothers can put their children to bed each night knowing they will wake up to the quality education that will help them succeed in life, and to the quality health care that will treat them when they get sick. I’m saddened that, in the wealthiest country in the world, more than 8 million children, 100,000 of them in my own home state, lack basic health coverage. As Democratic Leader in the Senate, I’m committed to doing more to make health care affordable and available to everyone, especially children and pregnant women.
“We can do more for daughters concerned about their aging parents to ensure that all Americans can retire in dignity and live in good health. That’s why I remain committed to protecting Social Security and to improving President Bush’s deeply flawed Medicare drug program.
“And we can always do more for the health, safety, and well being of the women who do so much for everyone else. That’s why I’m fighting to improve access to women’s health care for poor and low income women, and to eliminate the health care disparities that force women to pay far more than men for their health-related expenses.
“For the women colleagues, business leaders, and entrepreneurs who make our economy run, America can do better to ensure fair pay and expand economic opportunity. They give their best, but even in 2006, women who work full time year round still earn only 76 cents for every $1 their male counterparts earn. I pledge that we will continue fighting to end this unfair pay gap, to increase the minimum wage, and to create more opportunities for all our families.
“Finally, I salute the more than 200,000 women who are serving in active duty in the military, helping to defend and protect our nation. I pledge to them that Democrats will continue fighting to provide our troops and their families, active duty and reserve, with all the resources they need to protect our freedom. And when they return home, we will ensure that all veterans have access to the health care they need and never have to choose between retirement and a disability check.
“At the end of the day, these brave women are protecting the values that Democrats are fighting to ensure for everyone, including community, integrity, freedom, and justice. These principles represent not just the foundation of our great nation, but also the same values that bind us as Americans. This month, let us recognize the women all across this country–the mothers, the daughters, the co-workers, and the soldiers–who make these cherished ideals an intrinsic and enduring part of the American dream.”