House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), on campus to promote economic security and opportunity for women, took a moment on Feb. 7 to praise community colleges for providing a path to better opportunities.
Women now hold the majority of bachelor’s degrees and advanced degrees nationwide, putting them in a position to drive our 21st century economy. Sixty-three percent of the students at Community College of Philadelphia are female.
"Community colleges are the bridge," she said. "They are the path that takes people from where they are, to where they want to be," Pelosi said. "With everything that we do, education is essential. That’s why it’s so important that we’re here at the College."
Pelosi, the first woman to serve Speaker of the House of Representatives, is currently the House Minority Leader. She spoke during the invitation-only "When Women Succeed, America Succeeds" event, which advocated for a higher minimum wage, access to child care for working mothers, and other policy issues that strengthen women and families.
PathWays PA, and The Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces sponsored the event.
U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) and U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) joined Pelosi on a panel alongside three area women who discussed the difficulties faced by those in low-paying jobs. They spoke to a packed room in the Klein Cube of the Pavilion Building.
Onetha McKnight, who works as a wheelchair attendant at Philadelphia International Airport, said she earns $5.75 an hour plus tips. She uses a co-worker’s asthma inhaler because she can’t afford to buy her own. McKnight said she is among 2,000 workers employed by a subcontractor to provide passenger services at the airport.
"I wish I could say my situation was unique at the airport, but it’s not. Most of my co-workers at the airport are women struggling to get by on poverty wages. Thankfully, legislators like Nancy Pelosi are listening," McKnight said.
Democratic congressmen have a put forth a proposal to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour and peg it to inflation. "Over 60 percent of people who make minimum wage are women over age 30," Pelosi said.
State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown (D-Philadelphia) and State Rep. James R. Roebuck, Jr. (D-Philadelphia) were among the dignitaries in attendance. Rep. Roebuck also serves as vice chair of the College’s Board of Trustees.