Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi Reflects on Her Experience in House Leadership, Female Representation in Politics, and the 2024 General Election

Pelosi’s IOP event marked the beginning of Women’s History Month.

By Naina Purushothaman, Senior News Reporter

Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi discussed her experience as a woman in politics and the future of the country’s democracy during an Institute of Politics (IOP) event at the Rubenstein Forum on March 3.

Titled “A Woman’s Place is in the House: A Conversation with Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi,” the event was the latest installment in the IOP’s “Speaker Series,” a program of events dedicated to providing students and the general public the insights of figures in politics, journalism, and public service. Past speakers include former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. 

The moderator was Jennifer Steinhauer, the Director of the IOP’s Speaker Series and a New York Times reporter. Steinhauer is also the author of “The Firsts,” a book about the women elected in 2018 to Congress. 

Pelosi spoke about her experience as the first woman to be elected Speaker of the House of Representatives and becoming the first woman to lead a major political party, the Democratic Party, which she did for 20 years. 

Reflecting on her time as Speaker and minority leader, Pelosi emphasized the impact women made in Congress.“It [the Speakership] was something I really enjoyed, and again, especially as the number of women grew,” Pelosi said. “If the number of women had not grown, we would have never had a woman Speaker.”  

However, Pelosi also mentioned that, after decades of progress, the nation appears to have taken a step back after the June 24 overturning of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that protected the right to an abortion on June 24, 2022. 

Referring to the ramifications of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Pelosi explained that the current Congress does not represent the true opinions of the American people. 

“It’s the first time in our history where freedom has gone backward instead of more forward,” she said about the decision. 

However, she also added that the lack of transparency in government is a bipartisan problem. “There are areas of common ground that we have a responsibility to find,” she said. “Everything should be an area of transparency so that the public can see what is happening and weigh in on that.”

Pelosi also took the opportunity to speak directly to the audience, which was mostly made up of students, about the importance of the next generation in politics. “You have an impatience that is very valuable. You have a disdain for the status quo, which is critically important.” 

The entire recorded event can be accessed through the IOP YouTube channel.