Hoyer cel­e­brates Women’s Equal­ity Day with an­nual lun­cheon

Maryland Independent - - News - Twit­ter: @JClink_En­qGaz By JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES jclinkscales@somd­news.com

Cel­e­brat­ing the achieve­ments and progress of women in Mary­land’s 5th District and across the coun­try, U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) hosted his an­nual Women’s Equal­ity Day Lun­cheon Aug. 22 at the Colony South Ho­tel in Clin­ton.

More than 350 guests and elected of­fi­cials at­tended the lun­cheon in­clud­ing Us. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md., 8th), Sen. Ben Cardin (D), Mary­land State Sen. Joanne C. Ben­son (D-Prince Ge­orge’s) and Prince Ge­orge’s County State’s At­tor­ney An­gela D. Al­so­brooks (D), who served as the key­note speaker.

“We have this lun­cheon on a reg­u­lar ba­sis to not only re­flect upon the progress that women have made since the adop­tion of the 19th Amend­ment, but also to en­cour­age con­tin­u­ing fo­cus on mak­ing more progress,” Hoyer said in an in­ter­view. “That’s what we do here — re­mem­ber what was, re­mem­ber what is and have a vi­sion for what ought to be.”

Hoyer said this year, which marks the 96th an­niver­sary of the amend­ment’s rat­i­fi­ca­tion giv­ing women the right to vote, is that much more spe­cial in terms of women’s his­tory and equal­ity in Amer­ica. For the first time, a woman has been nom­i­nated to serve as pres­i­dent of the United States by a ma­jor party, he said.

“Re­gard­less of how one in­tends to vote, the ex­tra­or­di­nary march of progress and the im­por­tance of this mo­ment in our his­tory can­not be de­nied,” Hoyer said as he gave his speech. “The right to vote was not enough. It was a means to se­cur­ing greater recog­ni­tion of the fun­da­men­tal equal rights all women pos­sess. Women’s lib­er­a­tion and op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in the work­force was not enough ei­ther. Now we must fight to se­cure equal pay for equal work and paid fam­ily leave.”

For Hoyer, he said equal pay isn’t just a women’s is­sue — it’s an Amer­i­can is­sue.

Although the U.S. has made ex­tra­or­di­nary progress as a na­tion since the Seneca Falls Dec­la­ra­tion of Sen­ti­ments in 1848 and the 19th Amend­ment in 1920, Hoyer said the work of women’s equal­ity and their rights re­mains un­fin­ished.

“It re­ally is time for us to step up to the plate and do what we need to do in the way of en­sur­ing more women are elected to of­fices,” said Ben­son, the only fe­male sen­a­tor from Prince Ge­orge’s County who has been in pol­i­tics since 1965. “This is a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity for us to come to­gether, net­work, meet each other, give sup­port to each other and give the kind of strength that’s nec­es­sary so those women as­pir­ing to run for an elected of­fice will feel in­spired.”

Hav­ing served 20 years in the House of Del­e­gates and al­most seven years in the se­nate, Ben­son said she is humbled to be a source of strength that women need in to­day’s chal­leng­ing so­ci­ety. It’s the shot in the arm she needs to keep going, she said.

“I un­der­stand how pol­i­tics work and what it takes to be suc­cess­ful,” she said. “Be­ing a part of this event makes me feel that I have value. It makes me feel very humbled that peo­ple care enough and rec­og­nize my ex­pe­ri­ence and back­ground as an ed­u­ca­tor and pub­lic ser­vant to come to me.”

When it comes to pub­lic ser­vice, Hoyer said Al­so­brooks — the first woman and youngest per­son ever elected to state’s at­tor­ney af­ter run­ning for of­fice in 2010 — is some­one who has been mak­ing women’s his­tory in Prince Ge­orge’s County.

Un­der Al­so­brooks’s lead­er­ship, her team of more than 90 at­tor­neys and 100 ad­min­is­tra­tive staff has played a lead­ing role in the re­duc­tion of crime in the county for the last five years. In ad­di­tion, Al­so­brooks played an im­por­tant role in ad­dress­ing do­mes­tic and fam­ily vi­o­lence while work­ing along­side Mary­land At­tor­ney Gen­eral Brian Frosh in the fight to end hu­man traf­fick­ing, ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease from Hoyer’s of­fice.

“I think there’s a lot to cel­e­brate in the progress that’s been made and to shine a light as well on some of the is­sues that con­tinue to be some­thing we must fight to­gether as women,” Al­so­brooks said. “Women have al­ways been present but now we’re call­ing more and more women to con­tinue. We’ve been here in both ex­tra­or­di­nary ways and or­di­nary ways.”

Hoyer said he will keep fight­ing in Con­gress, along­side Cardin and the Mary­land del­e­ga­tion, to en­sure ev­ery woman in Amer­ica has an equal op­por­tu­nity to get ahead, have her voice heard loudly and clearly and is treated equally un­der the na­tion’s laws.

“As we leave here, I hope we will do so rein­vig­o­rated with the spirit of a proud his­tory of striv­ing for equal­ity and the de­ter­mi­na­tion to con­tinue do­ing so,” said Hoyer. “Only by work­ing to­gether and push­ing hard for change and progress can we con­tinue achiev­ing the vic­to­ries that bring full equal­ity closer.”

“A way a na­tion treats its women is a re­minder of how well a na­tion will be,” Cardin said. “We cel­e­brate to­day but we know we still have work to get done.”

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