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A National Museum for Women's HistoryMarch 13 2014
By Congresswoman Renee Ellmers
March 13, 2014
Throughout history, conservative women have impacted our nation's future and become an important voice in our democratic republic. We have proven ourselves as pioneers, innovators, leaders and decision-makers. We have created and contributed to many aspects of history—be it agriculture, medicine, politics, philosophy, science, and art. We have touched countless lives and shaped history, yet rarely does society teach, recognize or display our contributions—and it is time for this to change. In an effort to change this, I have joined my colleagues in advocating to establish the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) in Washington D.C.
Young women deserve a space to call their own—a physical space they can visit to hear and read about those who came before them and changed history. We need a tangible place that encourages our girls to wonder, to feel empowered, and to inquire about the people who fought to provide them with the freedom and opportunities they enjoy today. We need to share the stories of the strong women who have shaped our past and present so that young girls can learn the true meaning of perseverance and courage. There are too many women whose achievements have gone unrecognized and too many women whose efforts have been underappreciated. With such a vibrant history, it is a shame that we have yet to formally establish a museum dedicated to honoring their accomplishments. However, we are making strides.
This past December, my friend Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) sponsored legislation with Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) to create a commission that would recommend site locations and funding for the NWHM. This bill would have no additional cost for taxpayers, as the commission would be entirely paid for without federal funds. Information gathered by the commission would then be relayed to both the president and Congress. This past December, Reps. Blackburn and Maloney testified before the House Committee on Administration to relay the importance of establishing this commission. Joan Wages, president and CEO of the National Women's History Museum, an organization dedicated to establishment of the museum, also testified. Yet, nearly four months later, there has been no movement on this bill. With more than 82 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House, 19 in the Senate, and a plethora of national women’s groups supporting the bill, there is no excuse for this inaction.
As one of only 19 Republican women in the House of Representatives, I see firsthand how our underrepresentation can impact our future opportunities. But as we continue to increase our ranks, our daughters need an environment to learn about the conservative heroes who made this possible—women like Jeanette Rankin, Sandra Day O’Connor and Condoleezza Rice. These women have earned their place in history, and our girls should have every opportunity to study them and feel inspired by their contributions.
If there were a museum that honored and proudly displayed our history, perhaps more women would be encouraged to run for political office, to seek out top-tier leadership positions, or to launch a new business. By establishing the NWHM on the National Mall, the notion of conservative women holding office could become less of a rarity and more of the norm.
As Republican women, we must continue to demonstrate that conservative principles—like fiscal responsibility, individual liberty, and a strong defense—are values worth pursuing. We need to make women’s history a part of mainstream society. We need to have our story told, and we need to lead the way for other young conservative women. Let’s honor our mothers and daughters by providing them with a place to learn and feel inspired. Let’s establish the National Women’s History Museum in Washington, D.C.
Ellmers has represented North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District since 2011. She sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee and is Chairman of the Republican Women's Policy Committee.