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Women Take Leadership Positions in Minnesota, Washington

January 5, 2007


The first woman speaker of the U.S. House has been sworn in. The Minnesota House is also now headed by a woman. That's a big deal, according to Bonnie Watkins with the Minnesota Women's Consortium.

"We are thrilled, but we also know that women's work is never done. Now that we have women in these positions, we need to go out and make the changes that we had in mind."

She says that includes equal job opportunities, affordable child and health care and livable wages. The Minnesota Congressional Delegation also has two new women members in Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representative Michele Bachmann. They join incumbent Representative Betty McCollum. Wednesday, the Minnesota House elected Margaret Anderson Kelliher as speaker.

Watkins says voters sent a message that public officials need to pay more attention to the concerns of working families and kids.

"One is pay equity, which is really about women's ability to earn a living and support their families. Another is that childcare subsidies have been horribly, horribly slashed in recent years. Obviously, women cannot work and be self-sufficient if they don't feel their kids are taken care of, and neither can men. So, trying to restore some of those Draconian cuts of the last few years is going to be very high on the agenda."

There are now 71 women in the US House and 16 Senators.

In her remarks after accepting the speakership of the U.S. House, Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called the event an important milestone for American women.

"We have broken the marble ceiling. For our daughters and our granddaughters now, the sky is the limit. Anything is possible for them."

Pelosi is now third in line to the Presidency.

The Minnesota' Women's Consortium represents for 165 groups statewide.

Jim Wishner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - MN