A heartfelt thanks to this year’s keynote speaker Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, women's health advocate Sandra Fluke, our distinguished speakers, corporate co-chairs, and more than 1,600 attendees for making the luncheon a tremendous success!
Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State: "...I particularly am pleased that the National Partnership has here today the next generation of women leaders and those brave men who know the Partnership stands for a better America, not just for women and families but for all Americans and it is a model advocacy for groups like it around the world.
I remember so well, many years ago now, being pregnant with Chelsea, working at a law firm where there was no set policy for parental leave because there had never been a pregnant lawyer. And I used to watch the men I was working with as I got more and more pregnant just kind of avert their eyes. And they never really had a conversation with me about, well, what would happen. (Laughter.) And one of them, in the interest, I think, of trying to be funny and relate to me, called me the morning after I’d had my daughter and said, “Oh, when are you coming back to work?” And I said, “Oh, I don't know, about four months from now.” “Oh, okay,” he said. Because they didn’t know any better.
But I was aware then, as I have been every year since, that millions of other women didn’t have that opportunity. And fortunately for all of us, the National Partnership drafted the Family and Medical Leave Act, pushed it through Congress and onto my husband’s desk when he was President, ensuring that at least the first step toward recognizing the importance of providing parents the opportunity to balance work and family, would be enshrined in law.
Now, we have so much more work to be done... the Family and Medical Leave Act is just one example of what this organization has done over the last four decades of service. The work of advocacy can — and often is — incremental, maybe even glacial, but over years of effort it can carve out a world of difference.
And in nearly every country I visit I meet with civil society groups working on behalf of women and families and communities. And sometimes they are just learning about the power of advocacy. Many times, in many places, they’re facing barriers that we faced 50 years ago. And I give them the same advice that I would give my younger self or any young person hoping to make change in our world: get organized, get involved, and don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done. Because advocating for women, for children, for people with disabilities, for any marginalized group, needs to be a lifelong mission and hopefully a passion.
... I’ve had such an extraordinary experience over the course of my adult life. None of it could have been predicted. ...But I know very well that a lot of what I have benefited from came about because of the advocates and the organizations like the one we honor here today. Nobody does it alone. Nobody should want to do it alone. The collaboration, the excitement, the adventure, the fun of working with the National Partnership, working with so many of you represented here, has been a great joy to me."
Debra Ness, President: "There is a Japanese proverb that says the secret to success-in-life is simple: “Fall down seven times. Get up eight.” Seems like good advice for us today.
Who would have thought that in 2012, we’d be arguing over providing contraception for women... Or debating the idea of equal pay? That in one area after another we’d be re-litigating issues we thought had been settled 50 years ago?
And yet here we are. Fall down seven times, get up eight. As I look out at you, I see so many who are ready to stand up for women and families. And standing up for women and families is what the National Partnership does every day — it's what your support enables us to do. And, together, we make a difference.
...So yes, we have plenty to stand up and fight for. And trust me, we don’t need more overheated cable TV rhetoric about “mommy wars,” or which politicians care most about women. Spare us the sanctimony and hypocrisy of politicians who praise moms and caregivers while burying every effort to help them. We need to see this talk as the dangerous distraction it is.
Action and results are what we need and what the National Partnership will keep on fighting for."
Sandra Fluke, Advocate: "Sometimes people ask me how I’m doing now that things are back to normal. I appreciate very much their concern, but I’m troubled by the notion that things are getting back to normal.
It’s not normal when women’s access to reproductive health care is attacked every day. It’s not normal when it's controversial to assert that women should have affordable access to birth control. It’s not normal when state after state enacts restrictions on our right to choose. It’s not normal when those in power try to deny our ability to make our own health care decisions, based on nothing but where we live, work or go to school. It’s not normal when women’s access to healthcare is under constant attack.
Make no mistake — there are those who want that to be the new normal in this country. But, that’s not the country my generation deserves — or the country I want to leave for the next generation. So I pledge to continue standing up, speaking out, and refusing to be silenced or intimidated no matter what our opponents say or do.
And I know that, by being here and supporting one of the most effective organizations in this fight, that you are committed to doing the same. So I thank the National Partnership, and all of you who support this wonderful organization, for fighting every single day for women’s health."
Ellen Malcolm, Board Chair: "Last year, we celebrated this organization’s 40th anniversary. We talked about how much the country had changed since the days when Richard Nixon was our president — when women had few choices, few rights, and few options — and the war we fought was in Vietnam.
Now, in 2012, Barack Obama is our president, women have many more rights and options — but surprisingly, we find ourselves engaged in a new war, a tremendous fight to protect and expand those rights and options. It’s a war between those who want to take us backward to the days of Nixon and beyond — and those who want to continue the progress of the last several decades.
Women and families have so much at risk. Will women finally get fair pay? Will paid leave and paid sick days become a reality for all workers? Will our health care system take care of us when we’re sick? Will our right to choose abortion and even to access affordable birth control finally, irrevocably be secure?
This political confrontation is a war that the National Partnership, under the skilled and savvy leadership of our President Debra Ness, fights every day on our behalf. We need the Partnership now, more than ever — and I thank you for being a part of our Women 2012 mobilization.
Pamely Daley, Corporate Co-Chair: "As you probably know, GE has been around for more than 130 years... we were founded by Thomas Edison, probably the most prolific and productive inventor in history. But in 1918 he did something that would forever change the face of GE. He hired Katharine Blodgett.
Katie was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in physics from Cambridge and the first woman scientist to join our research lab. When she retired 45 years later, she had made groundbreaking discoveries in what today we call nanotechnology — physics at a billionth of a meter.
Today, GE can proudly claim 10,000 female engineers, scientists, and technologists. But back then a woman physicist was unique. That never deterred Katie. In a radio interview, she described her days in the lab by saying, “They consist mostly in tackling the problems to which I used to say,
‘I can’t,’ and I usually find that they are not so difficult as I thought they would be.”
Well, no one would claim that the issues that the National Partnership has tackled turned out to be “not so difficult” as we thought. But tough fights have never stopped the National Partnership. You have been at the forefront of every major advance for women over the last 40 years. In countless ways you have made the workplace more family friendly and helped women and men balance the dual demands of work and family.
When it comes to the most important issues, just like Katie, the word “can’t” is just not in the National Partnership’s vocabulary. So thank you all for supporting the National Partnership... because of your generosity, women’s futures and our country’s future are brighter than ever."
Eun Yang, Emcee: "I have always marveled at the National Partnership’s accomplishments.... I marvel, too, at how these fights continue — how achievements from the past need to be won again, in the present.
But, like you, I feel confident about the final outcomes because the National Partnership for Women & Families is leading so many of these critical fights. And we all know that this organization will not rest until all our workplaces are fair and family-friendly, and everyone has access to quality, affordable health care.
Our Generous Supporters
Corporate Partners: General Electric Company | The Travelers Companies, Inc.
Leadership Circle: Citi
Pacesetters: Allen & Overy LLP |
Bank of America Merrill Lynch |
Blue Cross Blue Shield Association |
CVS Caremark |
Deutsche Bank |
Goldman Sachs |
Hogan Lovells |
J.P. Morgan |
Nina B. Matis |
Morgan Stanley |
Pfizer Inc |
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
Underwriters: AFSCME |
AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies |
Bingham McCutchen LLP |
The Boston Consulting Group |
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, LLP |
Credit Suisse |
DLA Piper |
Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP |
Isabel P. Dunst |
Ernst & Young LLP |
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP |
King & Spalding LLP |
MasterCard Worldwide |
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP |
Pacific Gas & Electric Company |
Paul Hastings LLP |
Service Employees International Union |
Shearman & Sterling LLP |
The Sidley Austin Foundation |
Simpson Thacher Bartlett LLP |
Steptoe & Johnson LLP |
Susan K. Stern and Wendy L. Kahn |
UnitedHealth Group |
Viacom Music and Logo Group
Event Video: "Stand with the National Partnership"