House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday called for more women to get involved in politics and use their power, during a speech celebrating her tenure as the first female House speaker in US history.
Pelosi, who was speaking at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, also donated the gavel she used and pantsuit she wore when she was sworn as the first female speaker of the House in 2007. The museum also announced a new collection focused on how women have impacted history called the American Women's History Initiative.
Pelosi said this nation now stands at a "watershed moment in history" where "women are showing their power."
"To build that future, we need more women engaged in every area of our democracy," Pelosi said, listing women's roles in school boards to voting booths to marches on the National Mall.
She summarized her advice to the next generation of women in one word: confidence.
"Be yourself," she said, speaking in the museum's Flag Hall. "Know your power. Go for it."
"Nothing is more wholesome to our democracy than the increased participation of women in the politics of our nation," Pelosi said.
More than 25 members of Congress from both parties attended the ceremony.
House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the fourth ranking House GOP leader, paid homage to Pelosi's historic career, saying her donation will help inspire the next generation of women.
"As we celebrate women's history, I too want to congratulate a remarkable trailblazer, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi," Rodgers said.
"With this exhibit that we are having here today," California Democratic Rep. Doris Matsui said, "young girls from across the country and across the globe will be inspired to embark on their own journeys to run for office and contribute in their own communities."
Pelosi donated a burgundy pantsuit she wore during her swearing-in ceremony as speaker on January 4, 2007, along with the wooden gavel from the ceremony, a copy of the Congressional Record from her swearing-in speech and the vote-tally sheet of the 2007 vote for her to become speaker.