Orange-Line

GEC #1-2021 Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi: two women first of their kind

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Author: Salvatore Corradi – FM Chairman

What better occasion than the very first 2021 article of the Gender Equality Committee to talk about “firsts”? We decided to do it through two women who, regardless of political likes or dislikes, made the history of their nation and were “first of their kind”. I’m talking about Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi, two Americans who have claimed the role of symbols of all-female power.

Let’s start with Kamala Harris since her “Victory Speech” held alongside the newly elected president Joe Biden is the freshest memory that lingers in our minds:

“I’m thinking about her [her mother] and about the generations of women: Black Women, Asian, White, Latina, and Native American women throughout our nation’s history who have paved the way for this moment tonight. Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty, and justice for all, including the Black women, who are too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy. […] But while I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last.”

These are the words uttered by Harris, who officially became the first woman to fill the role of Vice President of the United States of America. She is Californian by birth, daughter of two immigrant parents (father of Jamaican origin and mother of Indian origin) with an education capable of attracting the multiplicity of American identities. During the famous speech, she focused on the need to bring the country together and overcome diversity and inequality.

The words pronounced by the two American leaders come just at the moment when America and the whole world needed it the most, considering that what we are facing is a world torn apart by a global pandemic and an America grappling with delicate political and racial issues that would soon lead to the assault on the United States Capitol. The two speeches conveyed a sense of security and hope, to the point of intimately striking all citizens to listening, women and men that were no more used to hearing words like “unity” and “equality“. The communicative significance of the event had all the impression of wanting to instill a sense of human and political transparency, a metaphorically perceptible clarity by observing the white dress chosen by the Vice President, a clear homage to the suffragette movement.

If Kamala Harris managed to reach such an important milestone, it is also thanks to the tireless work of those who preceded her as female in the American political landscape, this is the case of Nancy Pelosi. In the D’Alesandro family (Pelosi’s birth surname) there’s always been an air of involvement in public service, both her father and her brother have been mayors of Baltimore, their hometown.

Nancy’s political activity intensified after her marriage to Paul Pelosi and after the birth of their five children until she became, on January 4, 2007, the first woman to hold the office of Speaker of the Chamber, on which occasion she said:

“For our daughters and granddaughters, today we have broken the marble ceiling. For our daughters and our granddaughters, the sky is the limit, anything is possible for them”.

Among her other challenges are the passage of the historic Affordable Care Act and her brilliant decisions that resulted in the approval by Congress of strong Wall Street reforms. As a disruptive voice for women’s rights, she was also instrumental in the approval of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to restore the ability of women and all workers to combat wage discrimination.

As the mother of five and the grandmother of nine, Nancy Pelosi has succeeded with her leadership in paving the way for many more women who yearn for a political career.